Convenience Store Count as of January 31, 2012

The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 148,126 stores as of December 31, 2011, a 1.2 percent increase (1,785 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

“Convenience, convenience, convenience: Consumers continue to vote for their channel preferences through their spending behaviors and convenience matters. With a store count nearly four-times greater than the next closest competitive retail channel, the convenience store channel continues to outpace all other consumer-packaged-goods channels in terms of store expansion,” said Todd Hale, Nielsen’s senior vice president, Consumer & Shopper Insights.

“The continued growth in store count shows our industry is vibrant and adding jobs in difficult economic times. Convenience stores are an essential part of the fabric of everyday life across the country and our core offer of convenience continues to resonate with customers,” said NACS Chairman Tom Robinson, president of Robinson Oil in Santa Clara, CA.

The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, accounting for 62.9 percent of stores (93,209 stores total). The growth of one-store operations again outpaced the overall growth in store count. The industry increased by 1.2 percent, while the number of one-store operations increased by 1.5 percent.

Convenience store definition: stores that include a broad merchandise mix, extended hours of operation and a minimum of 500 stock-keeping units (SKUs).

A Superette is a grocery store with a sales volume ranging from $1 to $2 million annually. Typically, Superettes are independent, but many are affiliated with groups like IGA Inc.

Convenience stores especially serve as the one-stop shop for food and fuels in states that are dominated by small towns. Virtually all convenience stores sell fuel in North Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming (97 percent of stores).

The percentage of one-store operators, true “mom-and-pop” stores, continues to climb. The percentage of one-store operators topped 50 percent for the first time in 2001; today, that percentage is 62.9 percent. The states with highest percentage of one-store operations are Washington (78 percent), Georgia (78), Alabama (76), Connecticut (73) and Mississippi (72). In Washington, DC, 80 percent of convenience stores are one-store operations.

The convenience retailing industry has seen remarkable growth over the last three decades. At year-end 1981, the store count was 71,400 stores, at year-end 1991 the store count was 103,400 stores and at year-end 2001 the store count was 124,500 stores.

Source: Nielsen Holdings N.V. is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and related properties. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, The Netherlands.