Keep America Beautiful and NACS partner for a new guide on trash management

ALEXANDRIA, Va., and STAMFORD, Conn., 2017-Oct-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Keep America Beautiful and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) have partnered to produce the new resource, “Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing Litter, Managing Trash and Encouraging Recycling.”

The guide provides quick and easy tips for convenience stores to improve their customers’ experience, help the environment and, ultimately, enhance their reputation and bottom line. It includes information from Keep America Beautiful’s landmark “Litter in America” research from 2009—comprised of the “National Visible Litter Survey” and “Litter Cost Study”—as well as from jointly developed consumer and retailer surveys and audits conducted this year by NACS and Keep America Beautiful.

The guide includes a checklist to examine litter management practices at convenience stores as well as practical tips to help retailers reduce and ultimately eliminate litter in and around their stores. It also provides recommendations for recycling bin and trash receptacle placements to help make proper disposal of packaging items easy and accessible. And retailers also share techniques to engage employees, customers and the greater community.

“With convenience stores comprising 34% of all retailer business, convenience store operators can play an instrumental role in providing customers with convenient trash and recycling containers to lessen litter and improve recycling at their locations,” said Brenda Pulley, Keep America Beautiful’s senior vice president, recycling. “Keep America Beautiful is pleased to team up with the NACS to provide best practices for managing trash and recycling with the new ‘Being a Good Neighbor’ guide.”

According to Keep America Beautiful research, the most people properly dispose of trash in receptacles. But nearly one in five disposals (17%) ends up as litter. Packaging, including fast food, snack, beverage and tobacco packaging, comprises nearly half (47%) of items in the “visible” litter stream, according to Keep America Beautiful research.

Meanwhile, NACS research shows that consumers overwhelmingly say that convenience store appearance is important: 84% of consumers fueling up say cleanliness of the store is an important factor when considering whether they will shop at a particular store. The new resource guide shares best practices that help retailers manage waste to keep their properties clean, including placement and design of trash receptacles.

“Litter impacts how people perceive your brand, even if they litter a cup with your logo on it somewhere else,” said Lisa Dell’Alba, one of the many retailers surveyed for the guide. Dell’Alba is president & CEO of Square One Markets (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) and a member of the NACS Board of Directors.

Convenience stores spend more than $600 per store per month for recycling and trash collection programs—or about $1.3 billion industry-wide on an annual basis. But the payoff is worth the expense: U.S. convenience stores continue to grow their foodservice sales, which climbed 12.9% to $49 billion in 2016, per NACS data.

“Keep America Beautiful has been the nation’s steward for litter prevention for nearly 65 years. We recognize that foodservice and product packaging is a significant part of the litter stream, and we’re pleased to partner on this guide to help convenience stores and their customers reduce litter. It’s good for the environment and good for the community, and ultimately good for business because consumers support businesses that support the communities they serve,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

To download a copy of “Being a Good Neighbor: A Guide to Reducing Litter, Managing Trash and Encouraging Recycling,” go to www.convenience.org/kab.

NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 160 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.

Source: NACS

NACS survey: Low gas prices drove sales increases at convenience stores in 2016; retailers expect strong sales to continue in 2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va, 2017-Jan-04 — /EPR Retail News/ — Low gas prices helped drive sales increases at convenience stores in 2016—and retailers expect those strong sales to carry over into 2017, according to a survey of retailers released today (1/2/2017) by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

More than two in three convenience retailers (68%) say that their fuels sales increased in 2016 and nearly the same percentage (63%) say that foodservice sales increased.

“The continued improvement of the economy and low gas prices gave our customers more confidence to buy inside,” said Aloha Petroleum’s Richard Parry (Honolulu, HI). He said that he expects “better-for-you” items to help continue to drive strong sales in 2017.

Industry-wide, better-for-you items like fruits and vegetables, yogurt, nuts and health bars saw strong sales in 2016: 63% of retailers reported that sales of these items increased in 2016. Only one retailer surveyed said that sales were down in 2016. “Healthier-for-you items are beginning to gain some traction,” said Michael Zielinski with Retail Management Services Inc. (New Lenox, IL).

Retailer confidence about the U.S. economy also surged. A record 79% of retailers say they are optimistic about the U.S. economy—a 26-point jump from last quarter. This surge in retailer optimism mirrors the optimism of their customers. A record 60% of U.S. fuel consumers said they are optimistic about the U.S. economy, according to the NACS December 2016 consumer sentiment survey.

Retailers also are very optimistic about the overall convenience retailing industry. More than three in four convenience retailers (78%) said they are optimistic about the industry’s prospects in the first quarter of 2017, a 7-point jump from three months ago.

New investments in technology related to loyalty programs and enhanced customer experiences are central to the strategy of growing convenience store sales in 2017. Continued technology enhancements surrounding digital advertising, consumer awareness and loyalty are a priority at Casey’s General Stores (Ankeny, IA), according to Terry Handley. Meanwhile, A.H. Jamra Co. (Toledo, OH) is investing in point-of-sale technology, said David Oswald. “Go high tech or go blind,” was the advice from Mohammad Khan with Shahani Inc. (Branford, CT).

Retailers said that new investments in food and beverage equipment are also growing sales. Kwik Trip (La Crosse, WI) saw strong sales from its high-end hot beverage sales with its Franke machines and is investing in new beverage offers to continue the momentum. “We expect explosive growth from our new cold-brew coffee and smoothies in 2017,” said Steve Loehr.

Ready-for-you meals will be a big industry trend in 2017, according to Sam Odeh with Power Mart Corp. (Elmhurst, IL). Meanwhile, products produced locally—whether snacks, merchandise or even craft beers—are gaining in popularly, according to Todd Kunkel at Handy Mart (Durand, WI).

Increased investments in their stores may have helped reduce retailer concerns over competition. Overall, 39% of retailers cited competition from other convenience stores as a concern, down from 47% who cited industry competition a year ago. Meanwhile, 33% cited concerns over competition from other channels like drug stores or dollar stores. However, the new Amazon Go concept “could be game-changer down the road,” said Lisa Dell’Alba with Square One Markets Inc. (Bethlehem, PA).

Retailers are much more concerned over threats to their business that are less in their control. A majority of retailers (55%) said that they are concerned about regulations and legislation that could affect their businesses. And 53% are concerned about labor issues, a sharp increase from the 41% who cited labor as a concern a year ago.

Despite concerns over threats to their businesses, 69% of retailers are optimistic about their own business prospects in the first quarter of 2017, largely because of the combination of convenience and an enhanced food offer.

“More convenience stores are adding foodservice, and our industry is moving to a one-stop shop for local communities,” said Nishant Chudasama with Cadnicks (Orange, CA).

“I truly think food will continue to be the trend in 2017—but it’s going to take ingenuity and creativity to continue to entice people to visit convenience stores for lunch and dinner. We’ll need to continually adapt to reflect trends and customer preferences—whether it’s a new burger or a new healthy option,” said Dennis McCartney with Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, PA).

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their businesses, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 81 member companies, representing a cumulative 4,052 stores, participated in the December 2016 survey.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, conducts 160 million transactions a day, sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the country and had total sales of $575 billion in 2015. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Source: NACS