You’re on a road trip and notice your gas tank is almost empty. There are two gas stations within the next ten minutes. Would you go to the closer one or drive a few more miles to stop at your favorite c-store? According to the 2022 NACS Consumer Fuels Survey, 74% of drivers would drive the extra miles to their preferred brand, regardless of price.
If you want your business to be the winner, then it’s important to follow convenience store news and take note of what other c-store brands are doing. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know and will even explain how one hiring solution can increase your associate retention by 43%, on average.
Where to Get Your C-Store News
While there are many c-store news outlets, we recommend these two reliable publications:
Convenience Store News
For more than 40 years and counting, the number one industry publication continues to provide its audience with a plethora of resources like magazines, newsletters, meetings, conferences, and more. Their mission is to “deliver the insight, analysis, market research and business intelligence that helps c-store retailers stay ahead of what’s next — critical information to grow sales and profits.” Every year, they announce their Convenience Store News Best New Products Awards to recognize high-quality food items that exceed customer expectations.
The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) offers “industry knowledge, connections, and issues leadership to ensure the competitive viability of its members’ businesses.” Their next trade show will take place on October 1 through 4 in Las Vegas — our Sprockstars will see you there!
Convenience Store Industry Trends
Which of these 2022 convenience store trends is your business following?
1. Increase in Restaurant Quality Food
The c-store industry continues to see a decline in fuel profits as they currently sit 7.2% below pre-pandemic levels. With fewer people on the road and rising gas prices, getting customers to walk in your door can be quite a challenge. Now, c-stores are adding more food options to compete with quick-service restaurants. Seven out of ten customers who stop to pump gas also make their way inside and one in four consumers visit c-stores for lunch. Additionally, 30% will purchase fast food compared to other c-store food items like made-to-order meals and refrigerated items.
Top brands like Wawa and 7-Eleven are attempting to be a one-stop shop for consumers. No wonder they both recently launched drive-thrus! Wawa even added a dinner menu to their list of food options. “It is critical to provide new ways to access Wawa, increase convenience and provide new options for service,” Wawa Director of Construction Terri Micklin said.
2. Digital Loyalty Programs
If you want to retain customers, then you need to incentivize them to continue to shop at your location. Some c-stores have found success with digital loyalty programs, and others are quickly catching on. Huck’s Convenience Stores, for example, implemented Huck’s Bucks Bigg Rewards and received 20,000 signups when the program first launched in 2020. Loyalty customers receive 10 cents off every gallon of gas and points with almost every purchase to earn discounts, free food, and other program prizes. The chain found that loyalty customers typically spend $5 more than non-loyalty ones.
Tip: Partner with third-party delivery services like DoorDash or UberEats, so your customers don’t even have to leave their houses!
3. Frictionless Technology
Current trends in convenience store technology include artificial intelligence and frictionless checkout. Texas and New Mexico c-store chain Delek US, for example, has cut checkout lines by 67% using a combination of these two solutions. Customers are able to scan and pay for their items in just 15 seconds!
Emerging technology like Sprockets uses artificial intelligence to supercharge the hiring process. The platform identifies shared personality traits between a location’s current best employees and its applicants. Then, the solution reveals which potential hires will succeed and stay long-term before the interview and without a resume. On average, Sprockets boosts employee retention by 43%, ultimately saving c-store owners and operators thousands of dollars.