- Convenience stores in America numbered 154,535 as of December 31, 2016, a 0.2% increase (340 stores) over the previous year and a new record overall, according to a NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Score Count.
- The number of c-stores has increased 63% over the past three decades, and didn't set records for only five of those 30 years, writes the Shelby Report.
- C-stores now account for more than one third of all food-and-drug outlets in America.
Convenience stores grew along with America’s highway system, and over time became indispensable to drivers needing fuel, snacks and an ice-cold beverage or two.
But c-stores want to be more than just pit stops — they want to be destinations people visit for quick grocery trips. That’s why many stores have increased their edible grocery stocks to include more cereal, bagged coffee, juice, cookies and other staples. They carry toilet paper and cleaning supplies too, along with the batteries, cigarettes and lotto tickets that many shoppers rely on.
C-stores now offer many of the greatest hits typically found at the supermarket in a limited-size format that caters to Americans’ growing affection for small, quick shops.
And the innovations aren't over yet. C-stores are investing heavily in foodservice, hoping to attract customers at meal time with sandwiches, salads, soups and even hot bars. It appears the days of the lone hot dog rotating under a heat lamp are numbered. According to research by CSP Magazine, consumers who said they had purchased a meal solution at a c-store rose from 52% to 62% between 2010 and 2015. Supermarkets, meanwhile, only saw a 2% increase, from 88% to 90%.