Consumers are driving historic in-store annual sales and basket growth for c-store retailers. This growth continues to affirm the essential value of the channel in the midst of a dramatic increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Sun Belt.
Today we’re taking a look at convenience store data through the end of June, to highlight sustained and emerging trends.
If you don’t have the time today to dive deeper, here’s a quick snapshot of the key takeaways:
- On a sales contribution % basis, all major in-store categories are either ahead or flat to compared to pre-crisis levels – except for Tobacco and Snacks, which have both declined.
- The number of unique items purchased declined by nearly 5% during the pandemic. Simultaneously, consumers are demonstrating increased loyalty to known brands.
- Consumer demand on Fridays, traditionally the strongest day of the week, has given way to a more balanced demand.
Category Sales Contribution %
Total in-store sales grew in every major category between January and June 2020, which is consistent with historical seasonal trends. By charting the contribution of each category to total sales, we can see that the crisis is impacting the sales contribution mix:
- Alcohol and Beverage have grown
- Candy and Food remain flat
- Tobacco and Snacks have each declined
This overall shift is having an impact on Gross Margin. If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out our previous blog post!
Unique Sold Items
In the midst of everything, CPGs and retailers have had to reduce the number of unique items available in retail channels. The reason for this can be attributed to supply constraints. At the same time, many consumers are demonstrating increased loyalty to known brands. As a result, we are seeing a nearly 5% reduction in unique items sold when compared to the pre-crisis period. While nearly all categories are demonstrating this trend (the exceptions are primarily in Alcohol), it is particularly impacting Snacks and Candy.
Daily Growth Trends vs. Year-Ago Levels
Reviewing daily trends in 2020 illustrates a few interesting takeaways for both retailers and CPGs:
- The crisis began to impact retailers in early March
- The following 6 weeks represented the brunt of the decline
- Fridays have taken a hit during the pandemic, as consumers continue to work from home and limit social engagements. However, Fridays still remain the largest volume day for retailers, but by a smaller margin. Sundays continue to be the slowest day of the week.
- June was a strong month for sales and basket $, with nearly all days being positive – despite the recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases. This suggests that consumer demand is likely to remain strong in the c-store channel for the duration of the pandemic.
While the health crisis and macroeconomic context continue to evolve in a fluid fashion, we expect retailers to deliver annual growth in 2020 that surpasses 2019. This is a remarkable testimony to the unique benefits consumers are finding in c-stores!
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