- Albertsons recently opened an "Express" convenience store in Boise, ID featuring fuel and food options that are new for the company, according to the Idaho Statesman.
- The location includes 12 pumps that feature the company's first chip reader for debit and credit cards. It's also the first station to offer ethanol-free fuel. Inside, the 3,100 square foot store offers fresh fruit, a walk-in beer cooler, digital soda machine, grab-and-go sandwiches and a drive-thru window.
- Albertsons opened its first Express fuel centers in 1997, but the company divested those and other stations in 2011 under then parent company Supervalu, according to Supermarket News. Albertsons gained a large number of gas stations when it purchased Safeway in 2015 and now operates 395 stations through the Albertsons and Safeway brands.
Now that its back in the fuel center business, Albertsons is eager to capitalize on the fresh-focused, grab-and-go convenience these smaller formats can offer.
The new Albertsons Express location, situated just a short drive from its corporate headquarters in Boise, features all sorts of on-trend offerings, from fresh-cut fruit to prepared foods and craft beer. As Supermarket News reported, the location also sells salad, wine and a limited selection of private label grocery products.
A spokeswoman characterized the selection as "modern and classy" — which are certainly not words consumers typically associate with convenience stores. But c-stores these days are redefining themselves as go-to spots for fresh foods and meals. They're capitalizing on their small size and steady fuel traffic to compete with supermarkets and even restaurants.
As consumers gradually move away from the one-stop shopping, convenience stores have stepped in to cater to fill-in trips and meal-time purchases. According to research firm IRI, two-thirds of all shopping trips these days are so-called "quick trips" to snag lunch or a few extra groceries.
C-store operators like Sheetz, Wawa and Rutter's Farm Stores now offer made-to-order meals throughout the day in addition to a wide variety of snacks and fresh items. Supermarkets that operate their own c-stores have stepped up their game, too. Giant Eagle's GetGo gas stations are being remodeled and rebranded as GetGo Café + Market, and carry groceries as well as a variety of prepared foods. Hy-Vee, meanwhile, has revamped its fuel stations and is developing hybrid grocery-convenience format called Fast & Fresh that will feature 10,000 square feet of fresh foods, groceries and a Market Grille Express.
Not all grocers see a booming opportunity in c-stores. Kroger recently announced it's exploring the sale of its convenience store division, which includes 784 stores across 18 states.
Albertsons will likely expand its Express model to other locations. It's difficult to say how widespread the rollout would be at this point, though the company, which just signed up for chain-wide ordering and delivery with Instacart, will probably learn a thing or two about selling convenience to its customers.