NACS was founded August 14, 1961, as the National Association of Convenience Stores. It is an international trade association representing more than 2,200 retail and 1,600 supplier company members. NACS member companies do business in nearly 50 countries worldwide, with the majority of members based in the United States. The U.S. convenience store industry, with 152,794 stores (as of December 31, 2014) across the country, posted $697.5 billion in total sales in 2014. The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, which account for 63.0% of all convenience stores (96,318 stores total).
NACS serves the convenience and fuel retailing industry by providing industry knowledge, connections and advocacy to ensure the competitive viability of its members' businesses. In 2007, the association shortened its name to NACS and added a tagline that better defines its presence both internationally and at the retail fueling level: The Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing. In 2010, this statement was further enhanced to The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing.
While 47 of the top 50 convenience store companies in the United States are members of NACS, the majority of its members are small, independent operators. More than 70% of the total NACS membership is comprised of companies that operate 10 stores or less. This membership base roughly tracks the industry as a whole.
NACS is the industry's voice in the federal government — to the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Its issues are as varied as the industry it represents, from motor fuels to credit card fees to labor to taxes. These include:
- Motor Fuels: NACS is the industry's leading advocate on motor fuels policy and represents 80% of the country's retail fuel sales. NACS recognizes the unique role of the convenience store retailer within the motor fuel system and represents the industry's interests before Congress and the administration.
- Credit Card Fees: Credit card fees are the convenience and fuel retailing industry's top pain point. In 2008, credit card fees surged another 10.5% to reach a record $8.4 billion — nearly three times the level just five years ago — an amount more than $3 billion greater than convenience store industry pretax profits.
- Labor and Health Care: The convenience store industry employs 1.8 million Americans, and labor and health-care costs are the largest expense category for the industry. NACS is working with Congress so that retailers can control their costs and not have to make the choice between offering benefits and hiring new employees.
- Tobacco: The number one in-store item for the industry is tobacco products. This is also one of the most regulated products that the industry sells. NACS remains a stalwart defender of the industry's right to sell legal products responsibly and continues to advocate for a level playing field for all channels of trade.
- Other Issues: Convenience and fuel retailers are subject to a large number of other legislative and regulatory initiatives, and NACS works to ensure that their interests on these issues are well represented. NACS is engaged in a number of issues areas, including food safety, menu labeling and tax policy, to name a few.
NACS produces a variety of products to help retailers grow their businesses, from research and marketing to human resources support to category management. NACS also has several industry-specific reports and programs that define the industry's performance:
- NACS State of the Industry Report: The industry's premier benchmarking tool and the most comprehensive collection of firm-level, store-level and category data and trends based on the industry's annual performance.
- CSX: The largest industry-specific online database of financial and operating data.
- NACS Magazine: Features thought-provoking and insightful articles that focus on trends, best practices, metrics and analysis for the decision makers and leaders of this dynamic industry.
- Consumer Tracking Program: A store-level shopper entry and exit research and insight program.
- NACS CAFE: The resource for ideas, information, access, education and solutions for foodservice operators in the convenience retail channel.
- Annual Retail Fuels Report: NACS shares details on the retail fuels market and explains how retail fuel prices are determined.
NACS develops a host of targeted events, designed facilitate interaction between suppliers and retailers, increase industry awareness with regards to legislative developments in the industry, and encourage an exchange of ideas about new products and best practices. Signature events hosted by NACS include:
- NACS Show: Drawing more than 24,000 attendees and 1,100 exhibitors, the NACS Show rotates among three cities: Las Vegas, Chicago and Atlanta. The event also features over 50 educational sessions and general sessions and numerous opportunities for networking.
- NACS State of the Industry Summit: The event delivers a thorough review of trends and opportunities by dissecting comprehensive industry data.
- NACS Global Forum: The annual event allows retailers and suppliers to interact with their counterparts from other countries, share global best practices, understand emerging trends, gain consumer insights and experience new ideas in the convenience channel.
- NACS Leadership Forum: A world-class event that brings together a broad base group of retailers and suppliers to provide thought leadership relevant to our industry, strengthen existing relationships and build new business relationships.
- NACS Government Relations Conference: Participants learn directly from members of Congress, Administration officials and government experts about policies that can affect the convenience and fuel retailing industry, then meet with their elected members of Congress to explain how current and proposed legislation impacts their business.