NACS survey: Americans say that low gas prices are good for the economy

New National Survey Also Finds That Prices Would Have to Increase to $3.37 per Gallon Before Consumers Begin to Curtail Driving

ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Apr-07 — /EPR Retail News/ — Americans overwhelmingly say that low gas prices are good for the economy and that gas prices would have to increase by more than $1 per gallon before they cut back on driving, according to results of the NACS Consumer Fuels Survey released today (4/6/2017).

Overall, 84% of consumers say that low gas prices are good for the economy, a 1-point drop from 2016, according to survey results announced by NACS, the association that represents convenience stores. Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States.

Americans also say that gas prices would have to increase to $3.37 per gallon before they reduce the amount they drive and reach $4.43 per gallon before they seek out alternatives to driving or drive drastically less.

“These findings are in line with what we traditionally find in our monthly surveys: Consumers say that prices have to increase by about a dollar per gallon from its current price before they consider cutting back. Gradual price increases also gradually push up the price at which they would drive less and it would take a sudden, unexpected price increase before most drivers would consider driving less,” said NACs Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

Gas prices tend to increase during the first few months of the year as the petroleum industry undergoes the spring transition to summer-blend fuel. This transition requires the production of unique fuel blends across the United States at a time of increased demand. Since 2000, this transition has led to an average price increase of 53 cents between early February and the seasonal peak, which most often occurs in late May.

By a more than two-to-one margin drivers understand the dynamics of the spring transition: 48% say that they agree that prices increase over the spring months because different fuel blends must be made and distributed for summer months. Only 21% disagree with that statement.

Other findings from the NACS survey include:

  • Consumers say that prices are more likely to increase because of world events as opposed to a local store trying to increase profits: 29% say OPEC is to blame when oil prices increase, compared to only 4% who blame gas stations.
  • A majority of Americans (57%) agree that most gas stations are small businesses evedn if they sell the fuel from a national brand. One in four Americans (26%) disagree with that statement. Overall, 58% of gas station in the United States are one-store operations.
  • Consumers say that convenience stores share their values: 66% agree that convenience stores share their values and do business the right way compared to 34% who disagree with that statement.
  • Consumers say that gas station profits are slim: 43% agree that gas stations make about 5 cents per gallon in profit, compared to 21% who disagree. Gross margins on fuel average about 20 cents per gallon and after expenses most retailers average about 5 cents per gallon in profit.

The survey results were released today as part of the 2016 NACS Retail Fuels Report (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices), which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices. The online resource is annually published to help demystify the retail fueling industry by exploring, among other topics, how fuel is sold, how prices affect consumer sentiment, why prices historically increase in the spring and which new fuels are likely to gain traction in the marketplace.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed January 4-6, 2017. NACS has surveyed consumers about their perceptions related to gas prices since 2007 and has conducted monthly consumer sentiment surveys since 2013.

NACS (nacsonline.com) 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 food service sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: strong sales at convenience stores to continue into the second quarter of 2017

​ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Apr-04 — /EPR Retail News/ — A combination of low gas prices, strong consumer confidence and warmer weather is expected to continue the year’s already strong sales at convenience stores into the second quarter of 2017, according to the results of a survey of convenience store owners conducted by NACS.

A sizable percentage of retailers surveyed say that low gas prices have grown sales in 2017: 47% say that low gas prices helped grow in-store sales and 42% say that low gas prices grew fuel sales over the first three months of the year. Convenience stores sell 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States.

A full 80% of convenience retailers expect in-store sales to increase this summer compared to last year, and 57% expect their fuel sales to increase compared to last summer.

“Low gas prices will encourage increased traffic on the roads and in our stores,” said Terry Handley with Casey’s General Stores (Ankeny, IA).

Other factors also point to stronger sales at convenience stores. John Clark at Alpine Mart (Stowe, VT) expects sales to increase because of strong consumer confidence and the warmer weather. And strong employment numbers also will be good for sales, said Marc Strauch at Cameron Park Petroleum (Folsom, CA).

Approximately three in four retailers are optimistic about the economy (76%), the convenience store industry (73%) and their own business prospects (73%) over the next three months. This retailer optimism mirrors consumer optimism. A record 61% of consumers said they were optimistic about the economy, according to the March 2017 NACS Consumer Fuels Survey.

An increasing percentage of retailers are optimistic about food sales: 53% of all retailers optimistic about their business prospects cite food sales as the reason. Overall, 57% of retailers say that sandwiches and meals will grow their sales, with 35% citing healthy packaged snacks and 28% citing fruits and vegetables.

The move toward selling more food ties into consumer trends. Consumers are increasingly selecting locations to fuel based on the quality of the food inside the store, according to the findings from a NACS national survey of consumers.

Convenience stores also sell more beverages as the weather heats up, and retailers are expecting the same to happen this quarter: 63% say packaged beverage sales (soda, bottled water, teas) will increase, and 43% say that fountain drinks (both cold and frozen) will increase.

In addition, retailers are adding new food and beverage offerings in stores to help further increase expected sales. Big T Mini Mart (Alhambra, CA) is adding beer and wine while Nisqullay Markets (Olympia, WA) is adding grab-and-go food for time-pressed drivers.

“We want to change the customer mindset from a location of fuel with food products to a food and beverage destination with fuel products,” said Scott Blank with Bi-State Oil Co. (Cape Girardeau, MO).

Beyond products, retailers also are putting an emphasis on store operations. “I expect our growth to come from our efforts to improve our customers’ experience through brighter lighting, a clean bright store and friendly service,” said Mark Speaks with Git ‘n Run Mobil (Gilbert, AZ). In Bigfork, MT, Ferndale Market is focusing more on local customers rather than tourists, with an emphasis on sandwiches and fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Planning is the key. We expanded our fueling locations to help drive traffic inside the store to our new healthier choices in our foodservice area like fresh fruit smoothies and salads on demand. Couple that with strong consumer confidence and we expect to have a great second quarter!” 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 79 member companies, representing a cumulative 3,281 stores, participated in the March 2017 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.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: Americans are optimistic about the economy as gas prices fall

​ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Feb-15 — /EPR Retail News/ — A majority of Americans (57%) are optimistic about the economy as gas prices fell by 5 cents per gallon over the past month, according to the latest National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Consumer Fuels Survey of U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle at least once per month.

Overall, 57% of consumers are optimistic about the economy, which is 13 percentage points higher than last February, when 44% were optimistic. More than three-quarters (76%) of all consumers say that gas prices, which fell from $2.30 to $2.25 over the past 30 days, play a role in their feelings about the economy.

Consumers in the South were most optimistic (60%), while those in the Northeast were least optimistic (54%). Only one in three Americans overall (38%) say that gas prices rose over the past 30 days, though a majority of consumers in the Northeast (53%) say that gas prices rose in the past 30 days. By contrast, only 28% of consumers in the Midwest say gas prices rose in the past 30 days.

Looking to the future, more than two in five fuel consumers (46%) say that they expect gas prices to increase over the next 30 days. This is a noticeable increase from the 35% who predicted higher pump prices at the same time one year ago.

One in five Americans (18%) say that they will spend more money shopping over the coming 30 days. Younger consumers, those ages 18-34, are most likely (28%) to increase their spending.

“The strong consumer optimism over the past few months will be challenged by the fuels industry’s spring transition to summer-blend fuels, which puts pressure on the distribution system and gas prices. As the cold winter weather slowly warms and spring draws closer, convenience retailers are hopeful that consumer optimism remains high and drivers continue to hit the roads — and visit their stores to refuel on drinks, snacks and meals,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,110 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed February 7-10, 2017. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.

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

NACS survey: Consumer optimism strong at the start of 2017 despite continued rise in gasoline prices

​ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Jan-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Consumer optimism remains very strong at the start of 2017 despite a continued rise in gasoline prices. For the third month in a row, a majority of consumers (57%) say they are optimistic about the economy—despite gas prices rising all three months, according to the latest National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Consumer Fuels survey of 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck, or van at least once per month.

Fuel consumers report a median gas price of $2.30 per gallon, an 11-cent increase from the December 2016 reported median of $2.19 per gallon. This month’s reported price represents a cumulative increase of 15 cents since November 2016 ($2.15), and a year-over-year increase of 32 cents from January 2016’s reported price of $1.98.

Over the past three months, there has been a nationwide trend of consumers noticing rising gas prices. In December 2016, one in three (38%) reported noticing higher prices, and in November 2016, one in four (27%) reported noticing higher prices.

In January 2017, three in five (61%) drivers report noticing that gas prices are “much” or “somewhat” higher than they were last month. There is also a noticeable difference by region: 71% of consumers in the Northeast reported higher pump prices, while only 46% in the West reported higher prices.

U.S. gasoline consumers expect this trend of higher fuel prices to continue in the new year. A 56% majority predict that gas prices in 30 days will be “much” or “somewhat” higher than they are this month. By comparison, only 32% of consumers at the same time last year said that they expected gas prices to be higher in 30 days.

Despite expectations of rising gas prices, consumer economic optimism held strong and steady this month, with 57% of gasoline consumers saying they feel “very” or “somewhat” optimistic about the economy. This represents only a minor decline from the historic, all-time high noted in the December 2016 study (60% optimistic).

Consumers were least optimistic in the Northeast (50%)—the region more likely have reported higher prices—and consumers were most optimistic in the West (60%)—the region least likely to have reported higher pump prices.

Also, in a noteworthy shift from monthly findings in the past, consumers over age 50 are more optimistic about the economy than those ages 18 to 34 (59% vs. 54%).

Gasoline consumers enter 2017 significantly more optimistically than they did entering into 2016; at that time, less than half of consumers (47%) reported feeling optimistic about the economy they faced entered.

“Strong economic sentiment may help continue to push sales at convenience stores and other retail outlets,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Nearly one in five consumers (18%) say they will shop more this month—despite January traditionally being one of the slower shopping months of the year. And virtually all drivers (89%) expect to be driving either the same amount (67%) or more (22%) than they did last month.”

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed January 4-6, 2017. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.

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

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

NACS survey: Americans more likely to go out and shop this holiday season compared to previous years

​ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2016-Dec-15 — /EPR Retail News/ — The continued economic optimism that is driving the stock market to new highs may have the same effect on holiday shopping and travel, according to the results of a new national consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

A record 60% of U.S. fuel consumers report feeling optimistic about the economy, a 1-point increase over the prior month. Younger consumers ages 18-34 (64%) and consumers in the South (also 64%) report the highest levels of optimism, which is largely consistent across all demographics.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas in the United States, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends.

Americans also say that they are more likely to go out and shop than in previous holiday seasons. One in three (33%) say that they will be spending more money this month on non-fuels purchases, significantly higher than December 2015 (27%) December 2014 (24%). More than two in five younger consumers ages 18-34 (42%) say that they will spend more this month.

Americans also intend to drive more this December: 27% intend to drive more this December, compared to only 22% who said they would drive more last December.

Low gas prices are a major factor driving consumer optimism. Three in four drivers (78%) say that gas prices impact their feelings about the economy, including 84% of consumers age 18-34. Nationally, gas prices peaked for the year in June at $2.38 per gallon.

Though consumer optimism remains strong, there is some concern about gas prices rising in the future. More than one in three (38%) consumers say that gas prices increased over the past month and a majority of fuel consumers (52%) believe that gas prices in 30 days will be higher than they are today. Nationwide, gas prices rose from $2.15 to $2.19 per gallon over the past three weeks. While gas prices are 19 cents per gallon higher than a year ago (December 2015: $2.00), they are significantly lower than they were in December 2014 ($2.70) and December 2013 ($3.29).

“Economic optimism is continuing into the holiday shopping and travel season,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “This continued optimism as we head into 2017 is good news for retailers across the country—and especially for convenience store retailers who will offer food and fuel for holiday shoppers and travelers.”

Average miles per dollar—a calculation that examines gas prices related to vehicle fuel efficiency—remained steady at 11.1 miles per dollar.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,124 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed December 6-9, 2016. The time period between the November and December monthly survey was compressed compared to typical months; the November survey was conducted one week later than usual (November 15-18) in order to avoid fielding during election. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.

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

NACS survey: economic optimism up, gas prices down, election over, Americans intend to travel and spend more over the holidays

ALEXANDRIA, Va, 2016-Nov-23 — /EPR Retail News/ — More Americans today (11/22/2016) are optimistic about the economy than they have been in the nearly four years of tracking consumer sentiment—and they say that they intend to drive and spend more over the coming month, according to the results of a national consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Nearly three in five (59%) U.S. fuel consumers report feeling optimistic about the economy, a 13-point jump over the prior month, and the highest level of economic optimism reported since NACS began tracking this metric in 2013. This increase in optimism was noticeable across all demographics and regions and was a stark reversal from each of the past seven months when a majority of American fuel consumers have been pessimistic about the economy.

While the U.S. election results no doubt caught the attention of the nation, Americans also took notice of declining gas prices. U.S. gasoline consumers report a median gas price of $2.15 per gallon, a five-cent drop from October. Three in four Americans (75%) say that gas prices impact their feelings about the economy.

With optimism up, gas prices down and the election over, Americans say that they will travel and spend more over the holiday season. Nearly three in ten (a record 28%) consumers say that they will drive more this coming month, a sharp increase from the 20% said so this time last year. In addition, 30% of consumers say that they will increase their overall spending this coming month, another record for this time of year.

Some of this extra driving and spending will occur over the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. More than one in three (37%) fuel consumers say they “always” or “sometimes” go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday.

Thinking about the overall economy, consumers say that lower gas prices will likely mean they will do more holiday shopping this year: 24% say they will do more holiday shopping compared to 6% who say they will do less holiday shopping. And consumers say others will be joining them at stores because of low gas prices: 45% predict that Americans will shop more this holiday season compared to only 7% who predict that Americans will shop less this holiday season.

“The positive mood of the country is welcome news for convenience stores, with the increased likelihood of more food and drink sales from happy consumers on the roads over the coming week and into the holiday season,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

The huge upswing in economic sentiment goes beyond partisan lines, noted Lenard. “Economic optimism likely surged thanks to a combination of factors: relief over the conclusion of the election, and a more certain political outlook, which in turns has helped the stock market. And there is no question that the elevated mood of the nation has been enhanced by the sustained period of lower gas prices.”

Consumers also say their vehicle’s average fuel efficiency increased to 24.0 miles per gallon, which is about 1% higher that self-reported mileage a year ago. Average miles per dollar—a calculation that examines gas prices related to vehicle fuel efficiency—increased this month to 11.2 miles per dollar as gas prices remained constant and fuel efficiency increased.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas in the United States, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,135 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed November 15-18, 2016. The monthly survey was pushed back one week later than usual in November minimize a post-election bias in the findings. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.

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

NACS survey: 77% of Americans favorable toward a new convenience store being opened in their area

ALEXANDRIA, VA , 2016-Oct-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — Nearly three in four (71%) Americans say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values and an even higher percentage (77%) say they would be “very” or “somewhat” favorable toward a new convenience store being opened in their area, according to a national consumer survey released today (10/18/2016) by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Younger consumers (ages 18-34) are overwhelmingly more favorable toward convenience stores than other age groups. More than 8 in 10 (82%) consumers ages 18-34 say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values. And fully 90% say they are favorable to a new convenience store, and more than one in three (37%) say they would be “very favorable.” Consumers with children are also more favorable to new convenience stores than consumers without children—85% of consumers who have at least one child under the age of 18 living at home say they would be favorable to “to a new convenience store opening in their area and 36% say they would be “very favorable.”

Consumers favorable to new stores cited positive economic effects, such as more competition for local businesses and more jobs, while others say they could use another store closer to their homes for greater convenience. Those unfavorable to new stores say that stores “offering competition on local gas prices” (28%) and “becoming an outlet for fresh and healthy products” (19%) would help to make them more favorable to a new store opening in their area.

Nearly three in five (58%) Americans say there are “about the right amount” of convenience stores in their community, with the remainder evenly split between “too many stores” (21%) and “not enough stores” (21%). Consumers in suburban areas are least likely to say there are “not enough” stores in their area (16%) compared to urban consumers (21%). Rural consumers are most likely to say there are “not enough” stores (31%).

Overall, a majority of consumers say that they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store if that store participated in local community projects or donated to charitable causes (56%), up from the 51% who said the same in September 2015. Two in three (67%) consumers with children say they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store that contributed to local community or charitable causes.

Consumers Noticing the Trend Toward Healthy Options
Consumers are also more aware of the convenience store industry’s efforts to provide fresh, healthy food. Six in ten Americans (60%) agree that “convenience stores are responding to consumer demand, and are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes.” Even higher percentages of consumers ages 18-34 (71%) and those with children (72%) agree that convenience stores are offering healthier choices.

More than one in three (35%) consumers say they have purchased more snacks considered “healthy choices” in the past year, but there is significant difference between genders in what they think about food at convenience stores. Women are more likely than men to say they have purchased more “healthy choices” in the past year (39% vs. 31%). However, more than two in three men (69%) agree that convenience stores “offer food I feel comfortable eating,” compared with three in five women (58%).

“Convenience stores are more closely tied to their local communities than any other retail channel and that’s something that consumers increasingly recognize—and reward,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,149 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed in August 2016.

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.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: Educational value were job benefits cited by Americans who worked in a convenience store

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-Oct-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — One in six American adults has worked in a convenience store, gas station or corner store, and they say that their job gave them valuable experience in how to work with people and how to run a business, according to a national consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Overall, 17% of adult Americans say that they have worked at a convenience store, gas station or corner store. Of that total, 91% say that they learned a lot about how to work with people, 86% say that the experience that they gained was valuable, 82% say that they learned about how businesses are run, and 71% say they would recommend this type of work to others, particularly as a first job.

Those who said the convenience store job was their first job are equally as positive about the experience: 83% say that the work experience was valuable and 74% say that the wages that they earned were consistent with their level of experience.

Educational value and flexible hours were job benefits cited by those who held a convenience store job in college: 90% say that they learned a lot about how businesses are run and 81% say that the job offered a flexible work schedule that allowed them to schedule work around other things in life.

Adult Americans who had never worked in a convenience store were equally positive about the job opportunities available at convenience stores. Overall, 85% of Americans who have never worked in the industry say that convenience stores are great summer jobs for high school or college students, and 83% say that convenience stores offer good first jobs for those looking to enter the workforce. Also, they see convenience store jobs as a potential path toward managing or owning a small business: More than two in three non-convenience store employees (71%) agree that it is common for workers who work hard to become managers or eventually own their own businesses.

“Convenience stores conduct more than 160 million customer transactions a day and fuel 80% of the vehicles on the roads today. None of this would be possible without the 2.5 million employees who serve busy Americans every day—and around the clock. These jobs also provide opportunities—whether to gain valuable business experience as you earn an income, or to eventually grow your own small business,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,111 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed in September 2016.

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.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

Convenience stores sales surged over the first half of 2016 according to NACS survey

ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2016-Jul-08 — /EPR Retail News/ — Convenience stores sales surged over the first half of the year as lower gas prices fueled more driving and Americans embraced the continued addition of fresh and healthy food options, according to a survey of convenience retailers released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

More than two in three convenience retailers (70%) say that in-store sales in the first half of 2016 were higher than the same period last year. A majority (54%) also say that fuel sales were higher compared to the first half of 2015. Only 8% of retailers say that in-store sales were lower in the first half of 2016 compared to a year ago.

Retailers continue to add fresh items to their product mix: 43% say that they have added more fresh fruit or vegetables this year; 39% have added more packaged salads; and 30% have added more cut fruits and vegetables. Overall, 85% of retailers say they sell fresh fruit or vegetables, an 8-point increase over last year.

Retailers also are selling more prepared foods and see food service as a growth opportunity: 64% say that they are confident in their ability to compete with quick-service restaurants for customers.

Golden Pantry Food Stores (Watkinsville, GA) and Flash’s C-Store (Sheridan, WY) are among the many companies that say they are adding more prepared foods and fresh fruit and salads. Meanwhile, SpartanNash (Grand Rapids, MI), which operates Quick Stop convenience stores, is expanding its nuts and seeds, jerky and protein bar selections. Overall, 94% of retailers surveyed say they sell health bars and 92% sell nuts and trail mix.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ we are going to evolve; it’s a requirement,” said Dennis McCartney with Landhope Farms Corp. (Kennett Square, PA), which is investing in new foodservice equipment to add new items to its menu.

Meanwhile, bottled water sales continue to grow at convenience stores. Nearly half of all retailers (48%) say they have expanded their bottled water offerings and even more (59%) say they increased their nutraceuticals and enhanced water selections. Convenience stores sell an estimated 50% of all single-serve bottled water purchases in the United States.

As a result of strong sales and continued success selling new items, more than two in three convenience retailers (68%) say they are optimistic about their own business prospects and 63% are optimistic about the industry’s prospects. Sales this summer are expected to be strong because of “dry, hot weather and tourist traffic,” noted Rich Spresser with Pester Marketing (Denver, CO).

However, there are areas of concern. Retailer optimism over their own business prospects, while still strong, has dropped 20 points from the 83% who said they were optimistic a year ago.

The drop in optimism is led by bigger concerns about the economy. A minority of retailers (47%) now say they are optimistic about the overall U.S. economy, down from 61% a year ago. Retailers say they are apprehensive about regulations, especially those targeting wages, which could lead to higher direct store operating expenses.

Why the downward trend in overall optimism? The most common reason is summed up by Robin Gabriel with Shell Food Mart (Hinsdale, IL): “The election” and the overall negative political climate.

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their businesses, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 110 member companies, representing a cumulative 1,905 stores, participated in the June 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.

Contact:
(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

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Convenience stores sales surged over the first half of 2016 according to NACS survey Convenience stores sales surged over the first half of 2016 according to NACS survey

Source: NACS

NACS survey: Convenience store retailers expect the robust sales in 2015 to continue into the first quarter of 2016

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-1-5 — /EPR Retail News/ — Convenience store retailers expect the robust sales in 2015 to continue into the first quarter of 2016, according to the results of a survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Retailers said that overall sales in 2015 were strong, with more than three in four (78%) reporting an increase in foodservice sales and nearly two in three (64%) reporting an increase in fuel gallons sold.

Nearly 8 in 10 convenience store retailers (78%) said that they are optimistic about their business for the first quarter of 2016, compared to only 6% who are pessimistic.

Lower Gas Prices, More Fresh Food Grow 2015 Sales
“People seem to have a bit more money available—maybe due to lower gas prices—and are buying more inside the stores,” said Richard Parry with Aloha Petroleum (Honolulu, HI).

“Customers are willing to spend more inside the store after spending less money at the pump,” said Stephen Lair with Harrison, AR-based Petromark Inc., which operates White Oak Station stores.

“The price of fuel seems to have helped with inside sales,” said Herb Hargraves with Jacobs Entertainment (Lafayette, LA), who added that customers are more willing to purchase additional items inside the stores, including higher-ticket items such as sportsman coolers and even $399 hoverboards for the holiday season.

A proprietary food rollout has helped grow sales at Anderson, IN-based Ricker’s convenience stores. “We’ve seen sales growth inside our stores after adding foodservice—and it has had a halo effect on other in-store items,” said Jay Ricker.

Stores also grew sales by offering a variety of better-for-you items. Nearly two in three retailers (65%) say that sales of better-for-you items increased.

“We had a significant increase in selling healthy foods,” said Jeff Armbruster with Armbruster Energy Stores (Grafton, OH).  At Marshall, MI-based Walter-Dimmick Petroleum, better-for-you beverages, especially water, had strong sales, according to Michael LeBerteaux.

Grab-and-go food items helped drive sales in 2015, according to Gregory Cobb with Freedom Oil LLC (Warsaw, IN).

Trends for 2016
Retailers are also bullish on the convenience store industry’s business prospects. More than three in four retailers (78%) said they are optimistic about the convenience store industry, an increase from 73% last year.

Retailers expect to see continued demand for healthy items in stores. James Lynch, with Burley, ID-based Triple S Oil, expects better-for-you foods sales to grow, especially in the first quarter following New Year’s resolutions.

Breakfast is also a positive growth opportunity for convenience stores in 2016, according to Dee Dhaliwal, with Dhaliwal & Associates (Pleasanton, CA).

While retailers are optimistic about 2016, they also have a number of concerns, especially related to labor. More than two in five retailers (41%) said that labor issues are a threat to their business in 2016. With tight labor markets and pushes to increase the minimum wage in many areas, meeting the demand for more prepared food programs, which require more employees on the payroll, will be challenging.

“With our low unemployment rate, the labor pool has become a puddle,” said Kim Robello with Minit Stop in Kahului, HI. “Employment is near full capacity in the Minneapolis market and is causing serious issues related to a stable workforce,” added Steve Williams, with Bobby & Steve’s Auto World (Minneapolis, MN).

Distribution issues are also a concern for retailers who seek to grow their foodservice offer, including Lisa Dell’Alba, with Square One Markets (Bethlehem, PA).

While competition is always a concern for retailers—47% of retailers said that competition from other convenience retailers was the biggest threat to their business, while 33% cited competition from other channels—the biggest threat in 2016 is over regulation and legislation, cited by 61%.

What factors will most influence sales? Four broad factors emerged from the survey: gas prices (cited by 33%), the economy (15%), the weather (14%) and the embrace of better-for-you items (10%).

“If gas prices stay low, inside sales will be strong,” said John Long, with Dyno’s Convenience Stores (Spencer, IA).

Even with a variety of external factors, it will likely be internal strategies that drive success in 2016. “Those who have successfully found their visions for the future will continue to make large strides and rally their teams behind them. Our success will depend on our ability to adapt to new trends and deliver a truly different experience than other competing retailers,” said Lonnie McQuirter with Lovingsons Service Center (Minneapolis, MN).

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their business, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 100 member companies, representing a cumulative 1,248 stores, participated in the survey.

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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 152,700 stores across the country, posted $696.1 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $482.6 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

SOURCE: NACS

Nearly half of all regular Black Friday shoppers expect to shop more this holiday season as a result of lower gas prices – NACS survey

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-11-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Nearly half (42%) of all regular Black Friday shoppers expect to shop more this holiday season as a result of lower gas prices, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Shoppers also expect to have plenty of company in stores over the holiday season: 96% of Americans say that they expect Americans to shop at least as much — if not more — this holiday season as they did last year. Overall, one in four Americans (25%) expect to shop more this year than last holiday season, when gas prices were approximately 70 cents more per gallon. Two in five (41%) shoppers ages 18 to 34 say they are likely to spend more this year, while only 14% of those over age 50 expect to do so.

Consumers say they are posed to spend more this holiday season because of lower gas prices, and 9 in 10 (87%) of holiday shoppers expect to stop at a convenience store, most often to purchase gas (77% of all travelers and 86% of regular Black Friday shoppers), or to use the bathroom (50% of all travelers and 51% of regular Black Friday shoppers).

Travelers will be buying plenty of beverages at convenience stores: 46% expect to purchase bottled water or a soda and 42% expect to purchase coffee or an energy drink to stay alert. They also plan to purchase food, with 45% expecting to buy a snack and 20% expecting to buy a sandwich or meal from a convenience store while traveling over the holidays.

Younger consumers ages 18-34 are most likely to stop at convenience stores during holiday travels, whether to buy a snack (57%), a bottle of water or soda (55%), a coffee or energy drink (52%), a sandwich or meal (28%) or use the ATM (25%).

“Sales have been strong all year at convenience stores and it looks like these strong sales will continue through the holiday season, especially with Millennials seeking out more fresh items in stores like salads, fruits or sandwiches,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Consumers are optimistic about the economy and lower gas prices are contributing to this optimism.”

Half of all Americans (50%) are optimistic about the economy, according to survey results released by NACS last week.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,100 gas consumers nationally were surveyed November 2-4, 2015.

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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 152,700 stores across the country, posted $696.1 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $482.6 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

SOURCE: NACS

NACS survey: Even with gas prices near six-year lows, U.S. consumers are still looking for the best gas prices

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-2-2 — /EPR Retail News/ — Even with gas prices near six-year lows, U.S. consumers are still looking for the best gas prices. Three in five (63%) consumers say they would drive five minutes out of their way to save 5 cents per gallon. An even greater percentage (72%) would pay by cash if they could save five cents per gallon, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Nearly three in four consumers (71%) say that the price is the most important factor in determining where they buy gas. Also, consumers are increasingly seeking out discounts for their gas purchases: Two in three (65%) say that they have taken advantage of a discount, such as using a loyalty card or paying by cash to save money buying gas.

“It doesn’t matter whether gas prices are $4.00 or $2.00 per gallon, consumers still want to find the best price possible,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. “Retailers are constantly fighting to attract price-sensitive drivers to their stores, especially given that 35% of gas customers say that they also go inside the store after fueling.”

While consumers continue to seek out the best price for their gas, they are driving more because of lower gas prices. Overall, 95% of consumers say that low prices make it easier for Americans to go on vacation, and one in five (20%) say that they are driving more because of lower gas prices.

They also are less likely to seek out alternatives to driving. As a reflection of lower gas prices, consumers say that gas prices would have to increase by $1.53 per gallon before they would try to reduce the amount that they drive. This is the largest gap between current prices and the price at which consumers would change driving behavior in any NACS consumer survey.

Consumers overwhelmingly say that low gas prices are good for the U.S economy (91% agree), but they expect that prices will increase, with two in three (67%) agreeing that gas prices increase in the spring. And they predict that prices will be $2.95 on January 1, 2016.

The survey results were released as part of the 2015 NACS Retail Fuels Report (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices), which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices. The online resource is annually published to help demystify the retail fueling industry by exploring, among other topics, how fuel is sold, how prices affect consumer sentiment, why prices historically increase in the spring and which new fuels are likely to gain traction in the marketplace.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts the monthly consumer sentiment survey to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,108 gas consumers were surveyed January 6-8, 2015.

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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 151,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2013, of which $491 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Majority of Americans are optimistic about the economy thanks to the continuing slide in gas prices, NACS survey

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-1-20 — /EPR Retail News/ — For the first time in two years, a majority of Americans are optimistic about the economy, thanks to the continuing slide in gas prices. A survey of gas consumers found that 57% of Americans are optimistic, including nearly two-thirds (65%) of those ages 18-34.

The levels of consumer optimism are the highest measured in the more than two years that consumer sentiment has been measured by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). Consumers are obviously pleased with the continued falling price of gasoline. Almost nine in ten consumers (88%) say gas prices are lower today than they were last month, and they report that gas prices are 50 cents per gallon lower than they were 30 days ago.

Looking forward, consumers are evenly split about where gas prices will go from here. Nearly one in three (31%) say gas prices will be lower next month, which also is the largest percentage recorded. However, an equal number (31%) expect gas prices to go up over the next month. There is an interesting regional split when it comes to expectations of price: those in the Northeast are more likely to expect gas prices to fall (37% expect prices to go down vs. 21% who expect prices to go up), while those in the Midwest expect gas prices to go up (43% expect prices to go up versus 22% who expect prices to go down).

It remains to be seen if lower gas prices will result in more spending or driving. One in four consumers (24%) say that they will drive more this month, significantly higher than the 19% who said so each of the previous three months. However, only 16% of consumers say that they will spend more (excluding gas purchases) this month, while 25% say that they will spend less.

“Consumers generally pay down expenses in January after holiday spending so it’s not surprising that they may not shop more as gas prices fall. But if consumers do, in fact, travel more this month it would be a significant departure from previous years when January travel tended to fall off after the holidays and as winter weather keeps people indoors more,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS’ vice president of strategic initiatives.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts the monthly consumer sentiment survey to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,108 gas consumers were surveyed Jan. 6-8, 2015. Summary results are at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.

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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 151,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2013, of which $491 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.