Convenience store retailers say they experienced positive revenue growth over the first six months of 2018, with expanded healthy snack and drink options expected to fuel strong summer sales growth, according to a survey of U.S. convenience store owners by NACS, the trade association that represents the convenience retailing industry.
More than three in four (79 percent) convenience retailers said in-store sales increased over the first six months of 2018 compared to the same time last year, and more than half (56 percent) said their fuel sales increased compared to last year. Only seven percent of retailers said that in-store sales declined, and only 19 percent said fuels sales declined.
Retailers say a continued focus on fresh and healthy items in stores helped boost sales, and they plan to continue dedicating more sales space to these items. Retailers cited the addition or expansion of the following items in their stores:
- Health bars (45 percent of retailers added or significantly expanded over the first half of 2018)
- Fresh fruit/vegetables (41 percent)
- Packaged salads (37 percent)
- Nuts/trail mix (35 percent)
Retailers also cited their core offer of delivering value and choice for consumers, whether for healthy or indulgent food and beverage options.
Fresh salads and smoothies, along with burgers and fries, seem to be the big winners so far in 2018—the full spectrum of pleasure food versus healthy options,” said Dennis McCartney at Landhope Farms of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
Many retailers are devoting more cooler space to lower-calorie and lower-sugar beverage options, especially waters.
During the first six months of 2018, a majority of retailers said they’ve added flavored/enhanced waters (54 percent) and regular bottled water (52 percent). Water also figures prominently in sales growth, with 46 percent of retailers expecting more still bottled water sales to increase and 42 percent expecting sparkling bottled water sales to increase. Lower-calorie teas and coffees also were cited by 42 percent of retailers.
Retailer confidence has soared, with 86 percent of convenience retailers indicating they are optimistic about their business prospects over the third quarter, up three points from last quarter and tied for the highest measured since NACS debuted the retailer sentiment survey in 2015.
Convenience retailers also are optimistic on a broader economic level. Approximately three in four retailers are optimistic about the economy (74 percent) and the convenience store industry (77 percent).
A total of 74-member companies, representing a cumulative 2,106 stores, participated in the July 2018 survey.