By the Numbers

The Convenience Store, or C-store, industry generates large amounts of annual revenue in the United States. In 2018, there were approximately 153,237 convenience stores in America.[i] These stores sold $661.4 billion dollars’ worth of goods in 2018, including $229.4 billion in in-store sales.[ii] By itself, 7 Eleven, the largest convenience store chain in America, had an All Commodity Volume (ACV) of almost $35 million in 2019.[iii]

Making Stores ConvenientImage of Convenience Store Counter

While traditionally the term “convenience store” has been based on the convenience of its location, according to the 2019 Realities of the Aisle study released by Convenience Store News, these days “convenience store” harkens more toward a convenient experience. By in large, for shoppers this meant “easy access,” “easy to get in and out,” and “quick visit”.[iv]

It also meant being able to easily get what they need. The CS News summary of the “Convenience” section of their study stated, “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.” It is apparent that things such as a loyalty program, high-quality prepared foods, in-house ATMs, and a good selection of items all matter to shoppers.

The Rise of Convenience Stores

C-stores continue to open in the U.S. at a solid rate. Between 2017 and 2018 3,266 new convenience stores opened around the country.[v] By a margin of close to 2-to-1, most c-stores in the U.S. are single stores. In 2018, 62.3% of c-stores were single convenience stores and 37.7% of c-stores were part of a chain.[vi]

Convenience Store Open signAdditionally, c-stores are used frequently by shoppers. In 2018, consumers made purchases at a convenience store 2-3 times per week 29.4% of the time. And 17.4% of consumers made a purchase at least once a week.[vii]

Creating Habits

Among the shoppers who frequented a c-store 2-3 times per week, 33.3% were male and 28.3% were female.[viii] Millennial shoppers frequented convenience stores more often than their older counterparts. Millennial shoppers (aged between 18-36) shopped 2-3 times a week at a c-store 60.7% of the time. Generation X shoppers (aged between 37-52) patronized c-stores 2-3 times per week 31.9% of the time. Baby Boomers (aged between 53-71) bought from a convenience store 2-3 times per week 26.3% of the time.[ix]

Shoppers not only frequent convenience stores to purchase gasoline, but also shop in-store. In 2019, customers who visited a c-store made a gasoline-only purchase 60% of the time. However, 49% of weekly customers made an in-store only purchase and 49% of weekly shoppers purchased both gasoline and from in-store.[x]

When a Little Can Add Up to A Lot

Image of produce in a convenience storeAlso, the value of in-store purchases tended to be relatively low. As per Convenience Store News, in 2019, 4% of convenience store shoppers had their most recent c-store purchase valued at less than $2. 33% valued their most recent purchase at $5 – $9.99. And 15% valued their most recent purchase at $20 or more.[xi]

 

 

Happy Customers Create Repeat Customers

With this in mind, convenience store owners are dreaming up ways to keep customers coming back. Loyalty programs, mobile apps, in-store conveniences all create repeat customers.

Additionally, customers prefer to pay in cash. A 2017 survey conducted by Socratic Technologies reported that if given a choice of payment options, survey respondents make convenience store purchases in cash 49% of the time.[xii]

Thus, many owners have opted to place ATMs for convenience stores in their store. With easy access to cash, customers are more likely to spend that cash in-store. One concern for c-store owners is finding the best ATMs to fit their limited space. Several ATM manufacturers have developed high-technology, small footprint ATMs that are a good fit for convenience store ATMs, such as Puloon USA’s SiriUs 1 ATM.

With the increase in c-stores nationwide, convenience store owners who provide their customers with a quick, easy experience that includes convenient amenities and methods of payment is one that is likely to benefit from this billion-dollar industry.

 

Sources:

[i] CSP. (June 1, 2019). Total number of stores of the convenience store industry in the United States from 2011 to 2018 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 25, 2019

[ii] Convenience Store News. (June 1, 2019). Sales of the convenience store industry in the United States from 2011 to 2018, by format (in billion U.S. dollars) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 25, 2019

[iii] Convenience Store News. (July 31, 2019). All commodity volume (ACV)* of the leading convenience stores in the United States in 2019 (in million U.S. dollars) [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 25, 2019

[iv] Convenience Store News. (April 30, 2019). Leading factors that consumers consider to define store convenience in the United States in 2019 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[v] Cushman & Wakefield. (April 15, 2019). Number of store openings in the United States between 2017 and 2018, by retail type [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[vi] CSP. (June 1, 2019). Share of stores of the convenience store industry in the United States from 2014 to 2018, by store format [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[vii] TrendSource. (April 4, 2018). Consumers’ convenience store purchase frequency in the United States as of 2018 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[viii] TrendSource. (April 4, 2018). Consumers’ convenience store purchase frequency in the United States as of 2018, by gender [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[ix] TrendSource. (April 4, 2018). Consumers’ convenience store purchase frequency in the United States as of 2018, by generation* [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[x] Convenience Store News. (April 1, 2019). Frequency of convenience store visits in the United States in 2019 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[xi] Convenience Store News. (April 1, 2019). Value of most recent convenience store trip expenditure in the United States in 2019 [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

[xii] Worldpay. (December 15, 2017). If given a choice, how would you prefer to pay for each type of purchase shown below? [Graph]. In Statista. Retrieved September 26, 2019

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