What Does ‘Convenience’ Really Mean to Today’s C-store Shoppers?

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What Does ‘Convenience’ Really Mean to Today’s C-store Shoppers?

By Convenience Store News Staff Report - 04/17/2019

NATIONAL REPORT — Traditionally, convenience stores have filled the definition of "convenience" by location mostly. The channel is known for its prime locations, around-the-clock service and small store size.

While location is still important among convenience store shoppers, the word “convenience” has evolved to now evoke multiple store- and experience-related attributes, according to the findings of the 2019 Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle consumer study.

For a majority of shoppers, it boils down to a convenient experience.

When asked what defines convenience, 44 percent of shoppers polled cited quick/quick visit and 13 percent said a store is convenient if it is close, close to home or close to work.

Convenience also means “easy.” Specifically, 22 percent of those surveyed defined convenience as easy, 13 percent defined it as easy to get in and out, and 7 percent defined it as easy access.

What a store has to offer is important, too, according to shoppers. In tandem with the expectation of an easy experience, 5 percent of shoppers said a store that offers a convenient shopping experience is one that is easy to shop and has what they need.

Overall, the definition of convenience for most shoppers is an experience that ultimately saves them time and effort. Convenience is quick, easy, close by and allows a shopper to get what they need, when they need it.

Convenience stores that focus on simplifying the shopping and purchasing experience are more likely to see an uptick in foot traffic and an increase in basket size.

Shopping Behaviors

For most U.S. consumers, stopping by a convenience store has become a habit, with nearly two-thirds of all shoppers (63 percent) visiting at least weekly. This is particularly true for the younger generations, as 66 percent of millennials and 65 percent of Generation X visit c-stores weekly, compared to 56 percent of baby boomers.

In contrast to other retail channels that are dominated by only a few national players, such as mass merchandise, club, dollar and drug, the convenience channel is strikingly diverse. Shoppers listed 98 different c-store chains as the store they most often shop, and only 7-Eleven reached double digits (20 percent) for the percentage of shoppers that most often visit that chain. Other chains most frequently listed as the most-visited include QuikTrip (6 percent), Circle K (6 percent), Speedway (5 percent) and Wawa (4 percent).

Still, despite the industry’s diversity, shoppers habitually visit the same location, with 72 percent of c-store shoppers reporting they typically visit the same store each time.

When rating the store they shop most often, respondents gave "excellent/very good" ratings to trip speed (76 percent), friendly staff (64 percent), store organization (63 percent) and cleanliness (63 percent). Conversely, categories with the highest "fair/poor" ratings included price (30 percent), quality of prepared food (21 percent) and loyalty program (19 percent), indicating room for improvement in these areas.

Click below to download the full findings from our research, “Defining Convenience.”