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HOUSTON —Convenience store visits were stable while total channel sales were up in the second calendar quarter of 2012 compared to same time period of a year ago. Market researcher The NPD Group research of convenience store finds that there were 2.2 billion visits to c-stores in second quarter, which is roughly the same traffic level as in the same quarter for 2011. Aggregate channel sales were up 5.9 percent quarter-over-quarter.
Customer visits were up 2 percent at small and other c-store chains. However, patronage was down 2 percent at major oil chain c-stores in the second quarter. According to NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S, traditional c-stores realized a 1 percent drop in visits and traffic was flat. Morning traffic to c-stores declined by 4.5 percent, mid-day traffic increased by 5.5 percent, and visits in the afternoon day part grew by 1.9 percent in the second quarter.
"Stable is a good place for the c-store channel to be right now given the current state of the economy," says David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD's convenience store research. "Although the channel appears to be bucking hints of a double-dip recession, consumers are still evaluating purchases for value and necessity and, as a result, c-store retailers and manufacturers will need to offer and promote value."