You don’t have to go far to encounter one of the over 150,000 convenience stores operating in America. All of them are constantly adapting to changing trends in consumer lifestyles and consumption trends.
As customer expectations change, convenience stores must be innovative in order to retain repeat customers. Many have transformed their businesses from purveyors of gas, drinks, and prepackaged, shelf-stable foods to full-fledged gas stations and grocery stores. Some even offer personal services like dry cleaning.
C-store has evolved because today’s typical convenience store shopper is also changing. Historically, these customers were only interested in lottery tickets, alcohol, or cold drinks and snacks. Current statistics show that convenience store shoppers, especially millennials, rely on convenience stores for a much wider range of products, and would prefer the option of healthier food options.
Other C-store Shopper Facts:
- Living up to the name “convenience store,” proximity to home is the biggest reason customers return to a particular store, overriding price, selection, or service.
- Millennials buy at least one prepared food from a convenience store every week.
- Shoppers who patronize c-stores daily or several times a week spend more time in their cars compared to infrequent shoppers due to work, school, or other commitments.
- Frequent shoppers tend to be open to new technologies (for example, an app to purchase food or drinks for in-store pickup) and will change their buying patterns in order to save money.
- Hispanics are more likely than other ethnicities to be both daily and monthly convenience store shoppers.
- Many millennials (as well as Gen Xers), have begun ordering what used to be traditional convenience store items from Amazon.
- Just over half of all convenience-store customers go in to buy a beverage.
- The customers who consume the most beverages make an average of three visits for coffee and over four visits for fountain drinks per week (About 40% belong to a beverage loyalty program).
- Offering consumers the ability to “customize” their coffee makes a difference. Having plenty of creamers, milk, and sugar definitely plays a role in hot beverage sales. Even more important is a clean, easy-to-use coffee display counter.
- Customers spend an average of just 3.5 minutes inside, compared with 41 minutes for a grocery visit.
- Over 80% of c-store edible purchases are consumed within an hour ( 65% are eaten immediately).
According to NCR Corp., which provides software- and services in the financial, retail, and hospitality industries, the following services are becoming the wave of the future in the c-store industry:
- Contactless payments, self-checkout, curbside pickup, and delivery services, an adaptation that arose with the need to reduce employee/customer contact throughout the COVID-10 pandemic, are here to stay. By now consumers are not only used to the convenience these services provide, they actually prefer it.
- C-stores that sell fuel in areas that have traditionally experienced significant card scams and fraud at the pumps have increasingly made the necessary enhancements to their pumps, while those in lower-fraud areas have been slower, preferring to invest in other upgrades such as ways to improve customer experience.
- There will be an increase in freshly prepared meals so that the stores will become an actual destination as opposed to a necessary stop.
- Consumers today want to consolidate their shopping trips, which means buying goods in larger quantities – a 12-pack vs. a single can of soda, and jumbo bags of chips instead of small individual bags.
- As electric vehicles become more mainstream, look for more EV charging stations at c-stores that sell fuel. Because charging a car takes more time than gassing up, this means customers will want to spend more time in convenience stores that offer more ways to spend their time.
As one of the leading convenience store distributors in the Southeast, Atlantic Dominion keeps up with evolving trends. Operating in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, Atlantic Dominion offers exemplary service as well as a strong product mix. We stay current on consumer trends to ensure that your inventory is exactly what your customers need and want. Please click here to schedule an appointment.