Nearly 70% of retailers are hopeful about their business prospects, thanks to the combination of convenience and an enhanced food offer.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Low gas prices helped drive sales increases at convenience stores in 2016, and retailers expect those strong sales to carry over into 2017, according to the December 2016 NACS consumer sentiment survey.
More than two in three convenience retailers (68%) say that their fuels sales increased in 2016 and nearly the same percentage (63%) say that foodservice sales increased.
“The continued improvement of the economy and low gas prices gave our customers more confidence to buy inside,” said Aloha Petroleum’s Richard Parry (Honolulu, HI). He said that he expects “better-for-you” items to help continue to drive strong sales in 2017.
Industry-wide, better-for-you items like fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts and health bars saw strong sales in 2016: 63% of retailers reported that sales of these items increased in 2016. Only one retailer surveyed said that sales were down in 2016. “Healthier-for-you items are beginning to gain some traction,” said Mike Zielinski with Retail Management Services Inc. (New Lenox, IL).
Retailer confidence about the U.S. economy also surged. A record 79% of retailers say they are optimistic about the U.S. economy—a 26-point jump from last quarter. This surge in retailer optimism mirrors the optimism of their customers. A record 60% of U.S. fuel consumers said they are optimistic about the U.S. economy, according to the NACS survey.
Retailers also are very optimistic about the overall convenience retailing industry. More than three in four convenience retailers (78%) said they are optimistic about the industry’s prospects in the first quarter of 2017, a 7-point jump from three months ago.
New investments in technology related to loyalty programs and enhanced customer experiences are central to the strategy of growing convenience store sales in 2017. Continued technology enhancements surrounding digital advertising, consumer awareness and loyalty are a priority at Casey’s General Stores (Ankeny, IA), according to company representative Terry Handley. Meanwhile, David Oswald of A.H. Jamra Company (Toledo, OH) said they are investing in point-of-sale technology. “Go high tech or go blind,” was the advice from Mohammad Khan with Shahani Inc. (Branford, CT).
Retailers said that new investments in food and beverage equipment are also growing sales. Kwik Trip (La Crosse, WI) saw strong sales from its high-end hot beverage sales with its Franke machines and is investing in new beverage offers to continue the momentum. “We expect explosive growth from our new cold-brew coffee and smoothies in 2017,” said Steve Loehr of Kwik Trip.
Ready-for-you meals will be a big industry trend in 2017, according to Sam Odeh with Power Mart Corp. (Elmhurst, IL). Meanwhile, products produced locally—whether snacks, merchandise or even craft beers—are gaining in popularly, according to Todd Kunkel at Handy Mart (Durand, WI).
Increased investments in their stores may have helped reduce retailer concerns over competition. Overall, 39% of retailers cited competition from other convenience stores as a concern, down from 47% who cited industry competition a year ago. Meanwhile, 33% cited concerns over competition from other channels like drug stores or dollar stores. However, the new Amazon Go concept “could be a game-changer down the road,” said Lisa Dell’Alba with Square One Markets Inc. (Bethlehem, PA).
Retailers are much more concerned over threats to their business that are less in their control. A majority of retailers (55%) said that they are concerned about regulations and legislation that could affect their businesses. And 53% are concerned about labor issues, a sharp increase from the 41% who cited labor as a concern a year ago.
Despite concerns over threats to their businesses, 69% of retailers are optimistic about their own business prospects in the first quarter of 2017, largely because of the combination of convenience and an enhanced food offer.
“More convenience stores are adding foodservice, and our industry is moving to a one-stop shop for local communities,” said Nishant Chudasama with Cadnicks (Orange, CA).
“I truly think food will continue to be the trend in 2017—but it’s going to take ingenuity and creativity to continue to entice people to visit convenience stores for lunch and dinner. We’ll need to continually adapt to reflect trends and customer preferences—whether it's a new burger or a new healthy option,” said Dennis McCartney with Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, PA).
The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their businesses, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 81 member companies, representing a cumulative 4,052 stores, participated in the December 2016 survey.
This summer, more than 215 million gallons of wastewater poured into the Floridan Aquifer when a sinkhole opened up at the Mosaic fertilizer plant in Polk County.
Also this summer, Hurricane Hermine flushed tens of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay.
Governor Rick Scott swung into action with an emergency rule forcing polluters to notify the public within 24 hours of a major spill. But last week an administrative law judge sided with business groups and said Scott had no legal authority to act.
Republican Representative Kathleen Peters of South Pasadena says she’s working on legislation to fix that.
“Because that’s the goal and I know that’s the governor’s goal to ensure that there’s transparency and that the citizens have the opportunity to protect themselves if they need to.”
The heavy hitter of the Tallahassee lobby corps, Associated Industries of Florida, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Florida Retail Federation, fought to kill the emergency rule. They argued it would force convenience store owners to call a press conference every time a customer overfilled a gas tank.
Peters says she’s still working on thresholds for triggering public notice, and what the warning should say. But she thinks boil water notices are a good model.
“It’s amazing how when a water main breaks the media is reporting on that so quickly. And it seems to be quite seamless. And so can’t we get the same kind of system on a spill if it’s a health issue so that we can get the word out quickly.”
NFIB Florida executive director Bill Herrle said small business owners had a lot of concerns about the emergency rule. A diesel mechanic, Herrle says, isn’t always going to be the best interpreter of toxic thresholds.
Florida Retail Federation spokesman James Miller agrees, saying business owners would much rather notify regulators and leave the public relations to someone else. “We feel that DEP, they’re the experts in this kind of situation. And they’re the ones that know the appropriate media to call and they’re the ones that have the best examples of getting this information out to the locals in an area.”
However, Miller and Herrle insist they’re not opposed to the legislation. Herrle says he’s eager to help sponsors craft the language.
Legislative process as resulting in better public policy than just letting a state agency have a go at it.”
And that’s what worries Clean Water Network activist Linda Young the most. She’s afraid business interests will water down the legislation until it’s practically meaningless. A “may” instead of a “shall,” could make all the difference in the world, Young says.
“If this legislation is going to be meaningful, if it’s going to be protective and it’s going to accomplish what the public would like to have in place, there’s going to have to be very, very close scrutiny of every word.”
Governor Scott can be expected to do just that with every bill that crosses his desk. read more
A new whitepaper discusses how the health of consumers is driving retail.
As consumers strive to live more healthful lifestyles, their purchasing behaviors are changing rapidly, driving every buying decision. More than ever, consumers want—and expect—retailers and manufacturers to assist them on their health and wellness journey inside the store.
“As consumers around the globe search for better, healthier and smarter solutions that fit their lifestyle, the motivation for brands and stores to meet these needs means modeling an experience they cannot achieve with e-com,” said Global Market Development Center (GMDC) President and CEO Patrick Spear, in a press release.
Within the $3.4 trillion global wellness market: $1 trillion annually is spent on beauty and anti-aging; $574 billion is spent on healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss; and $433 billion is spent on preventative and personalized health.
The macro-level trends driving the enormous spending are happening so rapidly. Consumers are taking back the power to decide and are immersing themselves in knowledge and facts through technology and shared learning from friends and family.
GMDC’s whitepaper, “Next Practices: The Health & Wellness Consumer, Helping Trading Partners Shape the Future…Today,” showcases the trends shaping the new consumer-driven health and wellness movement:
It’s clear that health and wellness are fueling all purchasing decisions—shoppers expect retailers and manufacturers to offer a holistic, healthful experience that inspires them and speaks to their aspirations—from the entrance to the checkout line. “Health and wellness is a foundational element in everyone’s daily lives,” said Mark Mechelse, GMDC’s director of research, industry insights and communications. “For consumers to change behavior, they must have the motive, means and messages to do so. That is the essence of opportunity for collaboration between trading partners.”http://www.nacsonline.com/Media/Daily/Pages/ND1221166.aspx?utm_content=NACS%20Daily%20122116:%20newsarticle6%20(Consumers%20Hold%20Retailers%20Accountable%20for%20Their%20He)&utm_source=NACS%20Daily&utm_campaign=NACS%20Daily%20122116&utm_medium=email&utm_term=552364#.WFrX_LGZNE5
WESTPORT, Conn. — Foodservice will take center stage for convenience stores in 2017, predicts King-Casey, a retail consulting and design firm for the c-store industry.
"Innovative c-stores — such as Sheetz and American Natural — have led the way in improving their food and foodservice offerings," said King-Casey principal Tom Cook. "Now the rest of the industry has noticed, with the result that foodservice will be the primary area of focus for c-stores looking to build their brands and bottom lines."
According to Cook, c-stores will place a concentration on providing prepared foods, made-to-order sandwiches, fresh ingredients, healthy options, quality baked goods and barista-style coffee, espresso and tea beverages.
Although foodservice offerings will play a significant role in 2017, c-stores will also have a competitive edge over quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and fast-casual restaurants as they continue to revamp their interior atmospheres to make them more inviting and improve the customer experience, the principal said.
"This will change attitudes and behaviors over time, as customers spend more time in the stores talking, working and lingering over their food and beverages," Cooked noted. "The historical lines of distinction between c-stores and QSRs and fast-casual restaurants will continue to blur."
Supermarkets will also feel the heat of competition from c-stores, as consumers begin to see more c-stores without gas pumps with non-fuel locations. This will be especially true of urban areas were millennials — the heaviest users of c-stores — are concentrated.
Other King-Casey C-store predictions include:
Demographic shifts: With significant improvements in foodservice offerings, store design and environments, customer demographics will change. More women, with and without children, will visit more often. Smart operators will differentiate their brands by adapting their offerings to the unique needs of this customer segment.
Exterior appearance: Innovative c-store brands will increase drive-up and drive-by appeal with new, contemporary designs that incorporate large amounts of glass and windows that enable consumers to see the interior environment and store experience.
Drive-thru growth: Currently, Sheetz, Wawa, Parker’s and a handful of other c-store brands offer drive-thru service. "We see dramatic growth in this area as savvy brands realize that drive-thrus offer the best way to meet the customer demand for convenience, as well as a way to differentiate themselves and generate incremental foodservice sales," Cook noted.
Giving consumers the quick options they want
Snacking continues to be a popular meal-period option, and with more than three-quarters of convenience store customers visiting to buy snacks, it is crucial that retailers get it right. So what are your customers looking for? According to Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, more than half of consumers say portability is key.
Portability is influenced by size, shape, packaging and ease of purchase. According to NACS, 83% of goods purchased at c-stores are consumed within an hour and an impressive 60% are eaten immediately. What’s more, the top five dessert snacks are all packaged and portable, including cookies, ice cream, brownies, frozen treats and cupcakes, according to Technomic data.
So why not give your customers the kind of quick options they want? Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Capitalize on All-Day Breakfast
Portable, packaged breakfast pastries make great grab-and-go snacks throughout the day. Portable baked goods appeal to consumers looking for small, easy-to-eat indulgences. Consider offering items such as Danishes, muffins, cinnamon rolls and bear claws near the register for quick convenience.
Go for Bundles
With more c-stores amping up their coffee programs, packaged snacks (especially premium baked goods) make the perfect complement. Market coffee-and-a-snack deals for all customers, or offer them as a loyalty reward. Some 57% of younger consumers say the availability of breakfast combo meals influences their decision to visit a foodservice establishment, according to Technomic data. Similarly, be sure to merchandise bakery snacks by the coffee bar to increase bundled purchases.
Cater to Hispanics
As the Hispanic population grows, so does the purchasing power of this important consumer group. As this demographic is comprised of heavy c-store users, Hispanic consumers are a big opportunity for c-stores. Offer a selection of packaged authentic Mexican pastries, as Hispanic consumers over-index on c-store bakery items. In fact, while 77% of all c-store foodservice patrons buy bakery items once a month or more, that number jumps to 87% for Hispanics, according to Technomic data.
Consumers are receptive to bold, spicy flavors. Fill the roller grill with flavor-packed global snacks like egg rolls, spicy bread sticks and more. Consider offering an easily accessible line of flavor-packed condiments for hotdogs and other grab-and-go handhelds.
Drink It Up
With more female c-store customers seeking healthy, portable snacks, expect to see a jump in drinkable yogurt sales and other protein-packed drinks. Brands such as Chobani, Dannon and Yoplait all have no-spoon-needed yogurt drinks on the market.
Consumers continue to seek out indulgent snacks. Some 59% of consumers say they indulge when snacking, according to IRI data. Technomic reported that the desire to treat oneself is one of the biggest motivators for snack purchases, second only to hunger. Consumers are likely to purchase indulgent snacks in the afternoon, as studies show consumers are more willing, and more successful, at rationalizing a treat later in the day.
There is an opportunity to maximize indulgent snack sales throughout the day by placing popular impulse items in key positions around your stores. Play up seasonal craveability with holiday treats featuring peppermint or caramel flavors. Look for bite-sized indulgent snacks offered in cups or resealable bags, which are perfectly suited for grab-and-go impulse items.
As snacking continues to grow, and as consumers seek out craveable flavors, the opportunity for boosting snack sales grows, too. Prairie City Bakery has a variety of portable, mouthwatering snacks to entice impulse purchases in your store. For more information, visit Prairie City Bakery here. read morehttp://www.cspdailynews.com/category-news/snacks-candy/articles/6-tips-boosting-snack-sales
For Immediate Release: December 5, 2016
Florida’s leading retail advocacy organization highlights those issues and topics important to retailers and which will be the focus in the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session
TALLAHASSEE, FL – With the Florida House of Representatives in committee weeks this week and the Senate set to follow suit next week, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF), the state’s premier trade association representing retailers for over 75 years, announced its 2017 Legislative Agenda in preparation for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session in March. The agenda highlights those issues which are important to the success of retailers and Florida’s business community and which FRF will be focused on.
FRF & FPMA are excited to announce our 2017 Legislative Agenda! This diverse agenda - which was created based solely on feedback from you, our members, and voted on at our October Fall Retail Summit - highlights the issues that our influential Governmental Affairs Team will be focusing on this upcoming session in supporting the needs of retail businesses in Florida and ensuring you remain successful. (*This list does not include issues that may pop up as we get closer to session or during it*)
We are proud of our legislative impact and successes in recent years and we look forward to working with the Governor's Office and state legislators on passing legislation that will benefit our members and strengthen Florida's retail industry.
GENERAL RETAIL BUSINESS
Back in September, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an emergency rule that would require businesses responsible for instances of pollution to notify the state and the public about those instances on an expedited timeline. Under the emergency rule, notification is required to the DEP and to local government officials and the media.
DEP is now in the process of passing a final rule to address pollution notification. Below is the revised proposed rule:
Positive changes have been made to the rule. The rule is now more clear about what amounts of pollutants trigger the notification requirements. But the rule still raises concerns about the cost to business and the potential for ineffective and inaccurate information being shared with the public. We believe the DEP should be the central clearinghouse for the notification of pollution.
We are submitting our comments to the DEP to encourage further changes to the rule. Please share this rule within your companies and let us know what concerns you have. If you have real-life examples regarding how this could negatively impact your business, please share those with us so that we can educate the DEP about the impact of this rule.
Comments will only be received by the state agency up until 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 9, so please get back with us as soon as you are able. We appreciate your input.
Hear what happened to an endurance athlete when he ate nothing but gas station food for a month!
There’s a perception that “healthy eating” doesn’t take place outside of the home. Restaurants, gas stations, fast-food establishments—they’re all spoken of as if they’re part of the problem. But are they?
Frank Beard, an endurance athlete from Iowa, wanted to do something extreme and change the conversation. So he recently conducted an experiment. To prove that it is possible to stay healthy while eating out, he consumed only gas station food for 30 days.
FPMA’s national partners at the NACS Convenience Matters podcast, led by program co-hosts Jeff Lenard of NACS and John Eichberger of the Fuels Institute, talk to Beard about his experiment in “30 Days of Gas Station Food.” The program can be downloaded on iTunes by searching for Convenience Matters. It also is available at nacsonline.com/podcasts. Frank’s goal was to gain no more than five pounds after eating nothing but food from gas stations for 30 consecutive days. Find out not only his final results but what else he learned about the industry during his journeys!
Today, Governor Rick Scott activated Florida’s Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by Hurricane Matthew. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during the storm and recovery efforts. The application period is from today through November 11, 2016.
DEO is currently surveying businesses in the affected counties. To access the business survey, please go to flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda and select “Hurricane Matthew” from the drop-down menu.
DEO administers the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to provide an expedient cash flow to businesses damaged by a disaster. The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time damage is incurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term loans. Up to $10 million has been allocated for the program.
Owners of small businesses with two to 100 employees located in 67 counties affected by Hurricane Matthew can apply for short-term loans for up to $25,000. Loans are granted in terms of 90 or 180 days and are interest-free for that time period. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to October 3, 2016, and demonstrate economic or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Matthew.
To complete an application by the Nov. 11 deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network state office at 850-898-3489.