In-Store C-Store Sales Now Exceed Year-Ago Levels

Over the last two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, c-store retailers have heightened their focus on in-store sales and driving increased digital engagement. We’re happy to report that these efforts are paying off! Both sales and trips have improved in each of the last four weeks, when compared to the previous week. For the first time since the pandemic began, weekly in-store sales now exceed year-ago levels.

The following insights are based on convenience channel transactional purchase trends during a 4-week period from April 12 to May 10, 2020, compared to the relevant 4-week period in 2019. 

C-store retailers continue to deliver on their essential value proposition of convenience. Key findings:

  • Overall in-store sales continue to improve each week with basket value remaining high and trips low compared to the pre-pandemic period
  • Alcohol and Tobacco continue to be strong performers. Food and Candy are now growing year-over-year while Beverage and Snacks remain down but are trending to historical growth rates
  • Consumers are showing increased demand for multi-pack products over single serve

Inside Sales Trends Year over Year
Inside sales have materially improved since our last update – now showing year over year growth. The decrease in total trips is showing modest improvement.

Sales Growth by Category

Evaluating sales growth per store by category and week illustrates what is driving the overall increase in recent weeks:

Overall, Alcohol and Tobacco continue to represent large and growing categories for c-store retailers that drive both trips and sales volume. Food and Candy has also recovered led by Chocolates. Beverage and Snack continue to improve in recent weeks. Beverage growth segments into packaged, which is healthier, and fountain beverages which continue to see reduced demand.


Demand Shifting to Multi-Pack

Within beer and packaged beverages we are seeing increased demand for multi-pack over single-use, as consumers have been taking fewer trips – this Budweiser example shows that growth in sales and trips is concentrating in larger package sizes:

We see a similar trend across multiple brands in beer and soda. This represents a great opportunity for brands and retailers to tailor messaging and target changing expectations, in an effort to sustain share growth after the pandemic recedes.

We will continue to monitor trends, share additional insights, and keep you informed over the near term. We anticipate continued growth in sales and trips across most categories with basket size and value returning to historical norms as states increasingly relax shelter at home orders.

Convenience retailers continue to innovate and evolve to consumer expectations and remain a key channel for trial and conversion.

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