IRVING, Texas — In 1969, there were 11,000 convenience stores nationwide, with approximately $2.3 billion in sales, according to the Convenience Store News Industry Report from that year.
Fast forward to 2019 and there are approximately 153,237 convenience stores operating in the United States, with $661.4 billion in sales. Convenience stores account for more than one-third of the total brick-and-mortar retail universe in the U.S., according to Nielsen.
So, what will the next 50 years bring for convenience retailing? To help answer this question, Convenience Store News tapped leading c-store industry authorities.
Here is what Joseph DePinto, president and CEO of 7-Eleven Inc., had to say:
What do you think the next 50 years will bring for U.S. convenience retailing?
DePinto: I think U.S. convenience retailing is positioned well within the overall retail sector for the next 50 years. Time pressures will continue to increase in the future and customers will correspondingly seek out simplicity, ease of use, in addition to seamless and frictionless shopping experiences at a greater pace. Products and services will change and come and go, but it is important for our industry to remain “top of mind” with consumers when they think of convenient, immediate-consumption products and services.
What will change in the next 50 years?
DePinto: All retail sectors are evolving to be “more convenient” to the customer as customer needs continue to change. The evolution will continue to accelerate and traditional convenience as we've known it will be redefined. This means people will shop differently, seeking more simple and easy ways to shop. This will include shopping at close-by and convenient physical stores, but it will also include e-commerce (delivery, order and pick up at a store or elsewhere, etc.). Payments will evolve as well as customers will seek to pay the way they want and in a fashion that is most convenient to them. Finally, I believe as retail channels overlap and merge, all retail will become increasingly competitive. For us, that means we will continue to see significant consolidation as size and scale will matter.
What will stay the same?
DePinto: We will always have physical stores, but they will certainly be utilized in different ways, and we’ll build on our strength in immediate-consumption products.
Where do you foresee the 7-Eleven brand being 50 years from now?
DePinto: 7-Eleven will evolve with the customer. We have the organization, scale and capacity to make the changes required to keep pace with a rapidly evolving customer. In this sense, we will remain top of mind with the customer regardless of how they define convenience in the future.