Independent Convenience Stores
Convenience stores offer speed of service to time-starved consumers who want to get in and out of the store quickly. These shoppers recognize this channel of trade for its convenient locations, extended hours of operation, one-stop shopping, grab-and-go foodservice, variety of merchandise and fast transactions.
The average convenience store is 2,963 square feet. Newly built urban and rural convenience stores are getting bigger, with the average total area being 4,594 total square feet (Urban) and 4,938 total square feet (Rural). This is a nod to retailers recognizing the importance of creating destinations within the independent convenience stores that require additional space — whether coffee islands, foodservice areas with seating or financial services kiosks. Convenience stores also have expanded their offerings over the last few years, with stores become part supermarket, restaurant, gas station and even a bank or drugstore. (NACS State of the Industry data)
The convenience store industry is America’s primary source for fuel. Overall, 80.7% of convenience stores (124,374 total) sell motor fuels. A reclassification of fuel locations in 2015 led to a more accurate reading on convenience stores selling fuel. Overall, there was a 2.5% decrease (3,214 stores) over 2014. A majority of convenience store growth in 2015 came from non-fuel operations as more retailers decided to focus on foodservice and merchandise offerings inside their stores.
Independent convenience stores have an unmatched speed of transaction: The average time it takes a customer to walk in, purchase an item and depart is between 3 to 4 minutes. Here’s the breakdown: 35 seconds to walk from the car to the store, 71 seconds to select item(s), 42 seconds to wait in line to pay, 21 seconds to pay and 44 seconds to leave store. (NACS Speed Metrics Research, 2002)
The convenience store industry is a destination for food and refreshments. With falling revenues from fuels and tobacco products, foodservice sales are increasingly becoming convenience stores’ most profitable category. In fact, convenience store foodservice is roughly a $61 billion industry contributing 21.2% to in-store sales in 2015 (NACS State of the Industry Report of 2015 Data).
Convenience stores are everywhere. There are 154,195 convenience stores in the United States — one per every 2,095 people. Other competing channels have far fewer stores, such as supermarkets (51,055 stores), drugstores (41,967 stores), and dollar stores (27,378). (Source: Nielsen/TDLinx as of December 31, 2015) Consumers are embracing convenience stores like never before. An average store selling fuel has around 1,100 customers per day, or more than 400,000 per year. Cumulatively, the U.S. convenience store industry alone serves nearly 160 million customers per day, and 58 billion customers every year.
Self-serve at the pump is a part of most convenience stores’ fueling operations. The first self-serve gas station was opened by Hoosier Petroleum Co. in 1930, but was closed by the fire marshal as being a fire hazard. Frank Ulrich reintroduced the idea in 1947 at the corner of Jilson and Atlantic in Los Angeles. Modern self-service began in 1964 with the introduction of remote fueling; an attendant was no longer required to reset the pumps after each transaction. Today it is now available in 48 states. (New Jersey and Oregon still require full-service operations; New Jersey’s law was enacted in 1949; Oregon’s in 1951.)