NACS: Consumer optimism is at an all-time high Despite rising gasoline prices

​ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Mar-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Despite rising gasoline prices, three in five (61%) gasoline consumers report feeling optimistic about the state of the economy, according to the latest National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Consumer Fuels survey. Consumer optimism is at an all-time high across the four-plus years the national survey has been conducted, surpassing the 58% economic optimism recorded in December 2016 following the presidential election.

A majority of Americans are optimistic across all demographics examined. Older Americans age 50 and older are the most optimistic age group (65% optimistic), compared to 55% of those ages 18-34 who are optimistic. There also are regional differences, with Southerners reporting the highest levels of economic optimism (64%) and Midwesterners reporting the lowest (56%).

Americans also report a 4-cent rise in gas prices in their area. The reported median gas price of $2.29 brings gas prices back up to where they were at the beginning of the year, when gasoline consumers reported a median price of $2.30 (January 2017). Price increases are being felt the most strongly in the West, where a majority (52%) report seeing gas prices higher than they were last month. By comparison, just 41% of gas consumers in the Northeast and the South report seeing higher gas prices this month.

A majority of gasoline consumers expect prices to continue increasing in the next month, a time when gas prices generally face upward pressure as the fuels industry undergoes the annual transition to producing summer-blend fuel. Half (51%) of all Americans say that they expect prices in 30 days to be “much higher” or “somewhat higher” than they are today. Just one in ten (9%) expect prices to drop in the coming month.

Traditionally, rising prices have an inverse effect on consumer optimism. In March 2013, when 85% of Americans said that gas prices had increased, optimism stood at only 41%. However, gas prices also were much higher in March 2013 ($3.58).

The strong optimism may also translate into increased sales for convenience retailers: One in five consumers (22%) say they will drive more this coming month and 19% say they will shop more. More than three in four consumers (76%) say that gas prices have an impact on their optimism.

“The strong consumer optimism is also great news for convenience store retailers, who generally see sales grow when consumers are feel good about the economy, gas prices are low and the weather is nice. It appears that consumers are ready to unleash that optimism with more spending,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

And there is one more factor that can help grow sales for convenience stores: This past weekend’s change to Daylight Saving Time, which adds an extra hour of daylight to evening hours.

“With the extra hour people stay out later, and outdoor activities pick up — as do our sales. The time change equates to an immediate 10% lift in sales,” said E-Z Mart Stores CEO Sonja Hubbard (Texarkana, TX).

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,102 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed March 7-9, 2017. Summary results are available at nacsonline.com/fuelssurvey.

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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 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

For media interviews/comments contact Jeff Lenard.

Four retail members to serve on National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Board of Directors

ATLANTA, 2016-Oct-21 — /EPR Retail News/ — The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) announced the election of four retail members to serve on its Board of Directors. The new members were named to their positions during the NACS Board of Directors meeting at the NACS Show in Atlanta.

New board members are:

  • Chris Coborn, President & CEO of Saint Cloud, Minnesota-based Coborn’s Inc.
  • Brian Hannasch, President & CEO at Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
  • Chuck McDaniel, Vice President of Facilities, Tulsa, Oklahoma-based QuikTrip Corporation
  • Glenn Plumby, Senior Vice President Operations at Enon, Ohio-based Speedway LLC
  • Art Stawski, President, Pueblo-Colorado-based Loaf ‘N Jug

A member-driven organization, NACS is led by a 30-member Board of Directors, which includes three retailers from non-North American countries. In addition, the chairman and chairman-elect of the NACS Supplier Board also serve on the Board of Directors.

The following are brief biographies of the five new NACS Board members:

CHRIS COBORN
President & CEO, Coborn’s Inc.
Coborn is president and CEO of family-owned Coburn’s, a corporation of 120+ grocery, pharmacy, convenience, liquor, retail stores and central facilities in the Midwest. Coborn’s employs about 7,600 people in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. Coborn promotes a corporate culture of leadership through community involvement and charitable contributions. His company is a recognized leader in promoting charitable contributions through development and promotion of a Community Leaders Volunteer Program for employees, initiation of needed social and human service programs to meet community need, and educational support of community’s youth through employee education and scholarships.

Coborn graduated from St. John’s University with a B.S. in management.

BRIAN HANNASCH
President & CEO, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.
Hannasch was appointed president and CEO of Alimentation Couche-Tard in September 2014. In this role he has oversight for global operations of the company. Prior to his current role, he was COO since May 2010, and during that time had all functions of the company reporting to him, with the exception of the CFO. During this period, Hannasch also helped lead the acquisition and integration of Statoil Fuel and Retail into the ACT family. From May 2008 to 2010, he was senior vice president, U.S. operations. From 2004 to 2008, Hannasch was senior vice president, Western North America and vice president, integration. In 2001, he was appointed vice president operations, U.S. Midwest and responsible for U.S. operations. From 2000 to 2001, Hannasch was vice president of operations for Bigfoot Food Stores LLC, a 225-unit convenience store chain in the Midwest, Couche-Tard’s first step into the U.S. market. From 1989 to 2000, Hannasch was employed by BP Amoco in various positions of increasing responsibility.

Hannasch holds a B.A. in finance from Iowa State University and an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from the University of Chicago.

CHUCK McDANIEL
Vice President of Facilities, QuikTrip Corporation
McDaniel serves as vice president of facilities, for QuikTrip Corporation, a privately held convenience and gasoline marketer headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Founded in 1958, QuikTrip has more than 700 stores in 11 states, with more than 19,000 employees. McDaniel began work for QuikTrip Corporation in July 1991 as a night assistant manager in Kansas City. He worked in operations through April 2000 through the position of store supervisor. In May 2000, Chuck was promoted to director of facility support in Tulsa, overseeing QuikTrip’s maintenance department. In 2003, he was promoted to director of facilities, overseeing various departments in QT’s store development department.

McDaniel graduated from Central Missouri University in 1990 with a degree in business administration.

GLENN PLUMBY
Senior Vice President Operations, Speedway LLC
Plumby has more than 35 years’ experience starting in 1981 with Marathon Oil Company. He held various accounting and marketing positions until being transferred to Emro Marketing (Speedway) in 1994. Over the last 22 years at Speedway, Plumby has held positions including vice president of light product marketing, vice president marketing and vice president operations, construction and real estate.

Plumby graduated from Miami University in 1981 with a B.S. in accounting and earned an M.B.A. from the University of Toledo in 1985. He attended Indiana University Executive education program in 1993 and attended the Wharton School Advanced Management program in 2012.

ARTHUR STAWSKI
President, Loaf ‘N Jug
Stawski is president of Load ‘N Jug, a chain of convenience stores owned by Kroger and headquartered in Pueblo, Colorado. Stawski was inducted into the Pueblo Hall of Fame for community advocacy in 2012. He received the Pueblo Business Person of the Year award from the Pueblo Chamber in 2009 and was selected as the Community Advocate of the Year by the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation in 2007. He also served on the NACS Coca-Cola Retail Council from 2010 to 2014. Stawski began his career in the convenience store industry with Total Petroleum when he was 19 years old.

Stawski attended the University of New Orleans and earned his B.S. in business management from the University of Phoenix.

The NACS Show is the premier event of the year for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. More than 20,000 attendees from 60-plus countries are at the 2016 NACS Show in Atlanta, which features four days of general sessions, more than 60 education sessions and more than 1,200 exhibiting companies in a nearly 410,000 net-square-foot expo. For the most up-to-date news and information on the event, go to nacsshow.com.

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SOURCE: NACS

NACS welcomes Melody Ain as its meetings & registration coordinato

​ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-Feb-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — Melody Ain has joined the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) as meetings & registration coordinator.  Ain will join the NACS meetings and conventions team and assist in the operations and registration for several NACS meetings throughout the year, including the NACS Show, one of the nation’s largest and most successful tradeshows.

Melody comes to NACS from Plate & Decanter, a culinary and wine event planning company.  Prior to that she taught second grade abroad in Shanghai, China. She also served as event coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Melody graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in the history of art with a concentration in women’s studies and theatre.

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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 154,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $483 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

For media interviews/comments contact Jeff Lenard

National Association of Convenience Stores, Tyson Foods, Inc. to donate truckload of protein to Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nev., 2015-9-29 — /EPR Retail News/ Tyson Foods, Inc. and the National Association of Convenience Stores partnered today to donate a truckload of protein to Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas to help eliminate hunger in southern Nevada.

Three Square, which serves Clark, Esmeralda, Lincoln and Nye counties, will distribute the donated food through its service network of agency partners including nonprofit and faith-based organizations that provide daily meals and food pantry services to food-insecure Nevadans.

With today’s donation, Tyson Foods has provided nearly 470,000 pounds of product to Three Square throughout the years.

“Protein is a precious resource to a food bank and often is hard to come by due to higher costs,” said Brian Burton, CEO and president of Three Square Food Bank. “The contributions of companies such as Tyson Foods allow us to carry out our mission of providing wholesome food to hungry people, while passionately pursuing a hunger-free community. We are extremely grateful for this generous donation, which will be distributed to food-insecure individuals in Southern Nevada.”

With September being Hunger Action Month and the annual NACS Show—one of the Top 40 largest trade shows in the United States— just two weeks away, this is the perfect time for this donation, said Jeff Lenard, vice president of NACS strategic industry initiatives.

“Convenience stores are closely tied to the communities they serve, especially around charitable giving. Our industry donated close to $100 million last year to local charities and we are delighted to work with these great partners to give back to Las Vegas,” Lenard said.

Tyson Foods’ “KNOW Hunger” campaign is focused on helping more people understand and join the effort to eliminate hunger in America. The company partners with Feeding America, Share Our Strength and Lift Up America to raise awareness and help feed the hungry across the nation. Since 2000, Tyson Foods has donated more than 100 million pounds of protein in the United States.

Earlier this month, Tyson Foods announced its renewed commitment to hunger relief by pledging $50 million in cash and in-kind donations over the next five years in the fight against hunger, with a special focus on innovative initiatives at the local level. “Partnering with organizations like Three Square Food Bank and NACS is important to us in raising awareness about food insecurity in communities all around the U.S.,” said Kevin Miller, senior marketing manager for Tyson Foods. “In this community alone, Three Square distributes more than 34 million pounds of food and product each year. We’re honored to get to be a part of that.”

To learn more about Three Square Food Bank in Las Vegas and its hunger-relief efforts, visit http://www.threesquare.org/.

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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.

National Association of Convenience Stores survey: 6 in 10 American consumers say that convenience stores are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes

ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2015-4-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — Over one in three Americans (34%) say that they have purchased more snacks that are considered “healthy choices” over the past year, and they are increasingly turning to convenience stores for these healthy purchases, according to survey results released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

More than six in 10 American consumers (61%) say that convenience stores are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes. This was the third consecutive year that a majority of Americans say that convenience stores are providing more better-for-you items.

Sales reflect growing consumer choice for food items in convenience stores. Nearly six in 10 consumers (59%) and seven in 10 of those age 18-34 (70%) say that convenience stores offer food that they feel comfortable eating. Foodservice sales at convenience stores increased 9.7% in 2014, according to NACS data.

In particular, consumers are purchasing more fresh and nutritious food in convenience stores. Overall, 44% of Americans say that convenience stores offer nutritious items, which is a strong increase from the 30% who felt that way in 2013. In addition, 43% say that convenience stores are a place to get fresh food items. Convenience stores sales of fresh fruits and vegetables (whole commodities like apples, bananas and oranges as well as fresh-cut/value-added produce like prepared salads, fruit cups and other packaged produce) increased 10.3% to $362 million in 2014, according to Nielsen data.

“Convenience stores are increasingly becoming food markets for time-starved consumers seeking snacks, meals and grocery items that are both fast and healthy,” said NACS Chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations at LaCrosse, WI-based convenience store chain Kwik Trip.

The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,103 consumers were surveyed April 7-9, 2015.

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.

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NACS survey: Convenience store retailers optimistic about their business prospects

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2015-2-26 — /EPR Retail News/ — More than four in five convenience store retailers (82%) are optimistic about their business prospects in the first three months of 2015, according to the results of retailer sentiment survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

The drop in gas prices over the second half of 2014 was cited as a main reason for retailer optimism. Gas prices today are more than $1.00 per gallon lower than they were a year ago.

Convenience store retailers, which sell more than 80% of the gasoline purchased in the country, say that consumers are spending their savings where they are buying fuel. Overall, 62% say that customers are spending the extra savings from lower fuel prices inside the convenience store. Nearly three in four (73%) retailers say that they had higher merchandise sales in 2014.

“Lower fuel prices lead to higher volume inside the store and at the pump,” said Stuart Everngam, with The Gott Co. (Prince Frederick, MD). “We are back to pre-recession sales numbers — and going up,” added Theron Soderlund, with Country Corner (Eastsound, WA).

Convenience retailers are especially optimistic about growing their in-store sales. Nearly seven in ten (69%) believe in opportunities to grow merchandise sales and 58% say that there are opportunities to grow food sales in 2015.

Overall, 88% of convenience retailers say that offering prepared foods is important to their business in 2015. “Foodservice fits the immediate consumption and time-starved needs of our consumers. It is an obvious fit, as long as it is a quality offer,” said Sonja Hubbard, with E-Z Mart (Texarkana, TX).

“Consumers are looking for quick fresh and easy snacks or meals that can be consumed on the run,” added Julie Jackson with G&M Oil (Huntington Beach, CA).

“Prepared food is our industry’s future,” noted Tim Switzer, with Radiant Food Stores (Tampa, FL).

Produce also was cited as important to convenience retailers’ business in 2015, cited by 61% of retailers. “The trend is for fresh and better-for-you products,” said Giselle Eastlack, with Diaz Market (Metairie, LA).

Retailers also offered advice for how to grow produce sales. “Like foodservice, produce is a labor-intensive category when it is done correctly. Variety and fresh offerings are critical to the category’s success,” said Don Rhoads, with The Convenience Group (Vancouver, WA).

There also are challenges to offering produce, especially related to frequent distribution. “You must have nearly daily deliveries to maintain freshness,” added Ben Englefield, Duchess Shoppes (Heath, OH).

And, retailers need to be committed to the program’s long-term success produce if they expect to succeed. “If you are going to do it, then you better be married to it,” said Tony Huppert, with Team Oil Inc. (Spring Valley, WI).

While retailers are very optimistic about their specific business prospects, they are less optimistic about the overall economy. Only 62% of retailers say they are optimistic about the economy as a whole over the first quarter.

Convenience retailers noted several competitive advantages working in their favor for 2015. “We are in the unique position to service time-strapped consumers and retool ourselves much quicker than in other retail channels,” said Lonnie McQuirter, with the 36th & Lyndale BP (Minneapolis, MN). “But we need to constantly be aware when opportunities present themselves to our industry,” he cautioned.

While retailers cite the value of convenience as a competitive advantage, they also noted that retail execution remains critical. “Stocking the right amount of the right product at the right price the right way is more critical than ever,” said Michael Maxfield, with Big John’s (Abingdon, VA).

Ultimately, retail success in 2015 may depend upon gas prices. And while gas prices remain relatively low, retailers are also carefully looking to see if oil prices climb in 2015. “With the recent plunge, will they stay low and how will that help store sales and the economy in 2015?” asked Tom Robinson, with Rotten Robbie (Santa Clara, CA).

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their business, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 88 member companies participated in the Q1 2015 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 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.