Facts and figures about the industry and its top-selling products and services.
The U.S. convenience store industry has 149,000-plus stores that account for more than $680 billion in sales. Here are more details.
- Convenience Stores Offer More Convenience: Convenience stores offer speed of service to time-starved consumers who want to get in and out of the store quickly. These shoppers recognize this channel of trade for its convenient locations, extended hours of operation, one-stop shopping, grab-and-go foodservice, variety of merchandise and fast transactions.
- U.S. Convenience Store Count: The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 149,220 stores as of December 31, 2012, a 0.7% increase (1,094 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
There are 123,289 convenience stores selling fuel in the United States, and these retailers sell an estimated 80% of all the fuel purchased in the country. Overall, more than 58% of the convenience stores selling fuel are single-store operators — more than 70,000 stores across the country.
- What Influences Gasoline Prices?: Retail gasoline prices are among the most recognizable price points in American commerce, yet they are among the least understood. Here is a primer on what causes prices to go up or down and vary from store to store.
- Gasoline Myths...and Facts: Any time consumers face higher gasoline prices, conspiracy theories and urban legends are sure to follow and proliferate, especially via e-mail. Here are a few of the more common myths — and the actual facts — about gasoline — with the debunking courtesy of the popular site that examines urban legends, Snopes.com.
- The History of Fuels Retaling: The year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the first purpose-built, drive-up gas station. Today, stations look very different from that first station.
- How Hurricane Sandy Affected the Fuels Industry: Hurricane Sandy was unlike any storm in recent memory. Like many hurricanes, it hit some of the country's refining capacity — about 7% of U.S. refining capacity was in the path of the storm. However, it really was a storm that struck the customers, not the producers, of fuel.
- Why Gas Prices Historically Go Up in the Spring: Crude oil prices are the biggest factor driving gas prices, but how the crude oil is processed also plays a significant role in price increases. The petroleum industry's switchover to summer-blend fuels, a process that begins each February and ends June 1, creates challenges that also affect retail fuels prices.
The industry has a number of critical issues, including outrageous credit card fees, gasoline retailing misperceptions, debit card holds and more.
- Credit and Debit Card Fees: After a 21.6% increase in convenience store industry card fees in 2010, they jumped 23.3% in 2011 to a record $11 billion. Total credit and debit card fees surpassed overall c-store industry profits for the sixth consecutive year. Credit card fees are the second-largest expense at the store level. Only labor costs are more.
- Debit Holds for Fuels Purchases: As gas prices and the use of plastic at the pump have increased, consumers are increasingly concerned about the debit "holds" on their accounts.
- Foodservice at Convenience Stores: While convenience stores have offered fresh, prepared foods for years, it is only over the last decade that the trend has accelerated. The result is that convenience stores have continued to evolve from gas stations that happen to sell food to food retailers that happen to sell gas.
Facts and trends about the top in-store merchandise categories and services of the convenience and petroleum retailing industry.
- Beer Sales: Nearly 80% of convenience stores sell beer, accounting for more than 30% of all beer purchased in the United States.
- Candy Sales: Candy is a high-impulse item in convenience stores. In fact, many shoppers (49%) report that their candy purchases were unplanned, according to global research firm Envirosell.
- Coffee Sales: More than three out of four adult Americans say that they drink coffee either daily or regularly, according to the National Coffee Association, and convenience stores are one of the preferred destinations for coffee drinkers. Consumers stop to buy coffee more than they fill up their cars, providing convenience stores with a great opportunity to build loyalty and repeat sales.