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What Are You Waiting For?

If your c-stores aren’t food forward yet, your time for success may be running out.

Convenience Store News held its first-ever Foodservice Roundtable in June 2006. The inability to commit to foodservice was a key point discussed by the retailers and suppliers in attendance.

At the event, retail management consultant Sol Glastein, former owner of Simon's Markets, recalled saying in 1983 that foodservice represented the future of the c-store industry. "But we, [as an industry], haven't committed on a consistent basis," he told the assembled group in 2006. "What aspect of foodservice can we reasonably accomplish? We need to figure out what's right for our stores in our markets, and it requires a foodservice culture to do that."

My, how things have changed.

In the past 17 years, successful convenience store operators have not only committed to foodservice, but they've moved it to the forefront of their business. Industry-leading retailers are building new, bigger stores that make fresh food the first thing customers see when they walk through the door. They're also investing significant time, money and resources in enabling customers to order food the way they want and obtain it the way they want — think online ordering, mobile ordering, curbside pickup, in-store pickup, delivery, seating and more.

Foodservice has become so integral to the c-store industry that the cover story of our May issue rightfully poses the question: "No Foodservice, No Future?" When we asked this of industry veteran and now-foodservice consultant Jerry Weiner, who is credited with developing Rutter's best-in-class foodservice program and proving that a convenience store can be considered in the same category as a restaurant, he told us: "I think now, more so than ever, you will need a high-quality food offering to have any success at all."

The exclusive 2023 Convenience Store News Foodservice Study, the findings of which are also unveiled in our May issue, back up this statement. While average c-store square footage has remained fairly consistent in recent years, the percentage of space allocated to foodservice increased 3 points since 2021. Eighty-five percent of the retailers surveyed in this year’s study expect their foodservice sales to increase in 2023, and more than three-quarters of retailers believe they’ll generate more foodservice profits this year.

If your c-stores aren’t food forward yet, what are you waiting for? A high-quality, distinctive foodservice program is no longer a want-to-have, it's a must-have for survival.

About the Author

Linda Lisanti

Linda Lisanti

Linda Lisanti is Editor-in-Chief of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2005. Linda is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable editors in the c-store industry. She leads CSNews’ editorial team and oversees content development across all of CSNews’ print and online properties. She has covered virtually every major product category and major retail company.

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