Though convenience stores have long operated in their own market niche, selling gasoline, competitors such as supermarkets are seeking to steal away customers. Presenters at a recent Nielsen Consumer 360 Conference also warned convenience store operators that new competition is coming from Tesco’s Fresh & Easy markets and Marketside by Walmart. Analysts encouraged c-store operators to expand their offerings in order to conveniencestrengthen their connections with consumers. The largest expected new offering by many convenience stores may be foodservice. Convenience Store News reports that nearly half of these operators were looking for a 5% rise in this category’s sales in 2009.

Currently 41.6% of convenience store sales occur during the breakfast hours while 40.8% occur during lunch. The top 5 prepared food categories at these stores are doughnuts/muffins, sandwiches, hot dogs, breakfast sandwiches and cookies/brownies.

Here’s why consumers select a specific prepared food in a convenience store:

  • Already there to get other items 32%
  • Quality 31%
  • It was inexpensive 22%
  • Looked fresh 20%
  • Smelled good 11%

Analysts also pointed out that c-store operators can increase sales with promotions designed to boost impulse purchases or to get consumers to try a new product. As c-store operators increase their marketing, their competition won’t be far behind.

[Source: Convenience stores will bank on foodservice for growth, Facts, Figures and the Future, August 2009]