Single-Store Operation Convenience Stores

Get Into 93,209 Convenience Stores

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

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.


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.
Motor fuels sales continue to be important to stores. Overall, 81.7 percent of convenience stores sell motor fuels. A total of 120,950 convenience stores sell motor fuels, a 3.1 percent increase (3,653 stores) over last year. The growth of convenience stores selling motor fuels is outpacing overall growth in the industry.

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).
U.S. Convenience Stores (as of 12/31 for the previous year)

2012 – 148,126 (+1.2% over previous year)
2011 – 146,341 (+1.2%)
2010 – 144,541 (-0.2%)
2009 – 144,875 (-1.0%)
2008 – 146,294 (+0.8%)
2007 – 145,119 (+3.2%)
2006 – 140,655 (+1.8%)
2005 – 138,205 (+5.8%)
2004 – 130,659 (-1.3%)
2003 – 132,424 (+6.4%)

Top States for Convenience Stores (as of 12/31/11)

1. Texas 14,766 stores 6. North Carolina 6,269
2. California 10,763 7. Ohio 5,359
3. Florida 9,510 8. Michigan 4,865
4. New York 7,929 9. Illinois 4,553
5. Georgia 6,535 10. Virginia 4,512

Bottom three states in terms of store count are Alaska (194 stores), Delaware (340) and Wyoming (347).

States Experiencing Strong Growth
Five states had store counts grow at a rate that was more than double the national average: New Jersey (3.3 percent growth), Alaska (3.2 percent), Massachusetts (2.7 percent), Oregon (2.7 percent) and New York (2.6 percent). Growth in Washington, DC, was 2.9 percent.

U.S. Channel Count Comparison (Nielsen numbers as of 12/31/2011)

Convenience Stores 148,126
Supermarkets 32,924
Drug Stores 38,526
Dollar Stores 22,782
Superette1 13,234
Supercenters 3,645

1A 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.

Additional Highlights

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 states with the lowest percentage of stores selling fuel either have full-service fueling mandates (New Jersey and Oregon) or are in the Northeast where many stores were built before the early 1970s when motor fuels sales at convenience stores began to flourish. The five states with the lowest percentage of convenience stores that sell motor fuels are New Jersey (48 percent), Massachusetts (55), New York (58), Rhode Island (62) and Oregon (65). Only 41 percent of stores in Washington, DC, sell motor fuels.


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 U.S. population on Dec. 31, 2011, was an estimated 313 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means there is one convenience per approximately every 2,100 residents.
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.

About Nielsen
Nielsen Holdings N.V. (nielsen.com) 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.

About NACS

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuels retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 148,000 stores across the country, posted $576 billion in total sales in 2010, of which $328 billion was motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,200 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries

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