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W H AT ’ S N E X T I N C O N V E N I E N C E A N D F U E L R E TA I L I N G

Profiles in Resiliency The c-store industry’s small operators innovate to keep pace with the changing times.

FIRST-EVER ‘STATE OF THE SMALL OPERATOR’ STUDY

JULY 2020 CSNEWS.COM

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The future of our industry is about innovation, products with the potential to reduce harm and adult consumer choice. Through our companies and strategic partners, we’ve invested in the most compelling portfolio of non-combustible products. We strive to give adult consumers the choices they want today — and invest and develop products for tomorrow.


Servicing: Philip Morris USA U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company John Middleton Nu Mark Nat Sherman

Š2020 Altria Group Distribution Company | For Trade Purposes Only


VIEWPOINT

Getting Better, But Not Nearly Normal The pandemic accelerated trends already in play and quickened the adoption of new store-level technology RECENT DATA SUGGESTS that business is improving at the nation’s convenience retail establishments after the nearly three-month economic shutdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. As many states around the nation begin to reopen for business, convenience store traffic appears on the road to recovery — though business is still quite a ways off from prepandemic levels.

For the week ended May 30, inside sales at U.S. c-stores were up 3 percent over the prior week, according to Nielsen, while unit improvement exceeded dollar growth. “A positive read on traffic recovery,” commented Jeffries Equity analysts Christopher Mandeville and Blake Anderson. “Better trends were realized nearly across the board, with alcohol remaining a source of strength and, importantly, prepared food showing market improvement (down 13 percent in dollars and 24 percent in volume vs. a 21 percent decline in dollars and 30 percent volume loss compared to the previous period).” In conversations we’ve had with retailers on the Convenience Store News Editorial Advisory Board, prepared foods were hit very hard by the pandemic as many c-stores eliminated self-serve food and beverages. Most reported their foodservice sales were off between 12 percent and 15 percent during the height of the shutdowns, so it’s heartening to see improvement. An interesting exchange during Casey’s General Stores’ recent earnings call shed light on whether customers

would be reluctant to go back to self-serve food and beverages. Casey’s CEO Darren Rebelez responded that quite the contrary, customers prefer self-serve, were disappointed when it was taken away, and are now happy as the retailer is restoring it. It’s anyone’s guess how fundamentally the c-store business will change due to the COVID-19 crisis. I suspect that — like in the case of self-serve food — some things might not change much. But it would be foolish not to expect some very profound impacts from the pandemic. Expect a greater bifurcation of the industry into the haves and have-nots. Retailers that entered the pandemic with superior brand and value propositions, as well as a strong balance sheet, are in enviable positions to grow and get stronger. In many ways, the pandemic accelerated trends already in play and quickened the adoption of new store-level technology. Things like contactless payment, mobile ordering, curbside or pumpside pickup, and home delivery are all likely to see broader application throughout the convenience channel. Retailers, rightfully, have been in crisis mode. It’s impossible to know what the future will bring, but the smart retailers have already pivoted toward figuring that out.

For comments, please contact Don Longo, Editorial Director, at (201) 855-7606 or dlongo@ensembleiq.com.

EDITORIAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS (2013-2020)

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Brett Atherton Bolla Management

2018 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Editorial Use of Data, June 2017

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Best Single Issue, October 2012

2013 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award Finalist, Best Profile, August 2012

2018 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Website Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2017 Business to Business, Editorial Use of Data, June 2017 2017 Eddie Awards, Folio: magazine Winner, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, May 2017 Honorable Mention, Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, June 2016 2016 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2015 Business to Business, Retail, Single/Series of Articles, August 2015 2015 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2014

2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Bronze, Best Original Research, June 2015

2014 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2013 Business to Business, Retail, Single Article, February 2013

2016 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best How-To Article, March 2015 Silver, Best Original Research, June 2015

2013 Eddie Award Honorable Mention, Folio: magazine Business to Business, Retail, Full Issue, October 2012

Rick Crawford Green Valley Grocery Edward Davidson ER Davidson & Associates (7-Eleven Inc., retired) Jim Hachtel Eby-Brown Co. Chris Hartman Rutter’s Ray Johnson Speedee Mart

2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, National Azbee Awards Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014

Ruth Ann Lilly GPM Investments Danielle Mattiussi Maverik Inc. Vito Maurici McLane Co. Inc. Jonathan Polonsky Plaid Pantries Inc. Greg Scriver Kwik Trip Inc. Bill Stein Core-Mark Roy Strasburger StrasGlobal

Jack Lewis GPM Midwest

2015 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Gold, Best Special Supplement, November 2014 Silver, Best Profile (long form), February 2014 2013 American Society of Business Press Editors, Midwest Regional Azbee Awards Bronze, Best Editorial/Commentary, July 2012

Laura Aufleger OnCue Express

Joe Lewis ExtraMile Convenience Stores

2016 Trade Association Business Publications Intl. Tabbie Awards Silver, Front Cover Illustration, June 2015

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GSK is now the leader and your strategic partner for health and beauty care in Convenience.

Get all of your favorite brands from one familiar place! Contact your local GSK C-Store representative on how to order or email Scott.F.Breisinger@gsk.com

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CONTENTS JULY 20

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FEATURES COVER STORY

28 Profiles in Resiliency The c-store industry’s small operators innovate to keep pace with the changing times. 30 Tiger Fuel: Modernizing a Legacy The nine-store operator is ready for the future with a newly unveiled corporate identity. 34 Choice Market: Always Tweaking The small Denver chain has big plans for expansion as an omnichannel retailer.

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40 Oasis Travel Center: A Destination Like No Other Fun and whimsy are at the heart of this 18,000-square-foot retail experience. STATE OF THE SMALL OPERATOR

44 Weathering the Storm The c-store industry’s small operators face a tougher post-pandemic future than the larger chains.

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TOP 100

54 The Future of M&A The top convenience store chains retained their rankings over the past 12 months, but what effect the pandemic has on industry consolidation remains to be seen.

DEPARTMENTS VIEWPOINT

STORE SPOTLIGHT

4 Getting Better, But Not Nearly Normal The pandemic accelerated trends already in play and quickened the adoption of new store-level technology.

80 Fulfilling the Needs of a Food Desert The inaugural Allsup’s Market is equal parts convenience store and supermarket. INSIDE THE CONSUMER MIND

10 CSNews Online 18 New Products

98 Fare Expectations C-store foodservice shoppers don’t want to have to sacrifice quality for price.

NEW HORIZONS

40 34

78 Elevating the Latina Experience in Corporate America A new research study from NEW reveals the challenges Latina women face, and how companies can serve them better.

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Contact your local GSK C-Store representative on how to order or email Scott.F.Breisinger@gsk.com

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CONTENTS JULY 20

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8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631 (773) 992-4450 Fax: (773) 992-4455 www.csnews.com

BRAND MANAGEMENT Vice President/Group Brand Director Paula Lashinsky (917) 446-4117 plashinsky@ensembleiq.com EDITORIAL Editorial Director (201) 855-7606

Don Longo dlongo@ensembleiq.com

Editor-in-Chief (201) 855-7608

Linda Lisanti llisanti@ensembleiq.com

Senior News Editor (201) 855-7618

Melissa Kress mkress@ensembleiq.com

Associate Editor (201) 855-7619

Angela Hanson ahanson@ensembleiq.com

Associate Managing Editor (201) 855-7604

INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

CATEGORY MANAGEMENT

12 C-store Retailers Ride a Wave of Optimism Into Summer 2020

FOODSERVICE

13 Marathon Petroleum Delays Speedway Spinoff 13 Fast Facts 14 Retailer Tidbits 14 Supplier Tidbits 15 Seen on Social

64 As Summer Heats Up, Cool Treats Take Off Stewart’s Shops’ ice cream limited-time offers highlight what flavors hit the mark. FOODSERVICE

66 Grab & Go Gains Appeal The COVID-19 pandemic has consumers placing greater importance on safety and speed.

16 Eye on Growth TOBACCO

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70 The COVID Climb The coronavirus’ impact on tobacco sales is up, down and, ultimately, on an even keel. CANDY

72 Bite-Sized Boosts Consumers are turning to candy and snacks to improve their emotional wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danielle Romano dromano@ensembleiq.com

Contributing Editor (303) 741-3377

Renée M. Covino reneek@aol.com

Contributing Editor (201) 280-2614

Tammy Mastroberte tmastroberte@gmail.com

ADVERTISING SALES & BUSINESS Associate Brand Director & Northeast Sales Manager (508) 385-2524

Rachel McGaffigan rmcgaffigan@ensembleiq.com

Associate Brand Director & Western Sales Manager (330) 840-9557

Ron Lowy rlowy@ensembleiq.com

Associate Publisher & Midwest Sales Manager Kelly Fischer (773) 992-4464 kfischer@ensembleiq.com Account Executive & Classified Advertising Terry Kanganis (201) 855-7615 tkanganis@ensembleiq.com Classified Production Manager Mary Beth Medley (856) 809-0050 marybeth@marybethmedley.com EVENTS Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several (860) 830-8321 eseveral@ensembleiq.com AUDIENCE List Rental (914) 309-3378

MeritDirect Marie Briganti

Subscriber Services/Customer Care TOLL-FREE: (877) 687-7321 FAX: (888) 520-3608

contact@csnews.com

PROJECT MANAGEMENT/PRODUCTION/ART Vice President, Production (877) 687-7321 Creative Director (973) 607-1320

Derek Estey destey@ensembleiq.com Colette Magliaro cmagliaro@ensembleiq.com

Advertising/Production Manager (773) 992-4418

Ed Ward eward@ensembleiq.com

Art Director (973) 607-1321

Lauren DiMeo ldimeo@ensembleiq.com

CORPORATE OFFICERS

TECHNOLOGY 75 Leveling Up Loyalty C-store retailers continue to improve and build upon their loyalty programs, making them easier to use and more personalized.

Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Litterick Chief Financial Officer Jane Volland Chief Innovation Officer Tanner Van Dusen Chief Human Resources Officer Ann Jadown Executive Vice President, Events & Conferences Ed Several Senior Vice President, Content Joe Territo

CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS AFFILIATIONS Premier Trade Press Exhibitor

The contents of this publication may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the consent of the publisher. The publisher is not responsible for product claims and representations.

Convenience Store News (ISSN 0194-8733; USPS 515-950) is published 12 times per year, monthly, by EnsembleIQ, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631. Subscription rates: Subscription rate in the United States: $125 one year; $230 two year; $14 single issue copy; Canada and Mexico: $150 one year; $270 two year; $16 single issue copy; Foreign: $170 one year; $325 two year; $16 single issue copy. Periodical postage paid at Chicago, IL 60631, and additional mailing addresses. Copyright 2020 by EnsembleIQ. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Reprints, permissions and licensing, please contact Wright’s Media at ensembleiq@wrightsmedia.com or (877) 652-5295. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Convenience Store News, 8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave. Ste. 200, Chicago, IL 60631.

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HELP GROW YOUR CATEGORY WITH THE MARKET SHARE LEADER!

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CONTACT YOUR LOCAL TUMS SALES REPRESENTATIVE ON HOW TO ORDER OR EMAIL SCOTT.F.BREISINGER@GSK.COM Read and follow label directions. ©2020 GSK group of companies or its licensor.

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CSNEWS ONLINE

TOP VIEWED STORIES

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Casey’s CEO Foresees Three Major Changes Post-Pandemic

The first major change relates to the way in which Americans will do their jobs. “Working virtually is a trend that’s been evolving for a while, but the pandemic ripped the Band-Aid off. Companies have realized they can be productive in a virtual environment. Does that mean that 10 percent of the workforce will continue to work at home? 5 percent? 15 percent? I don’t know, but not everyone is going back to work at the office,” Rebelez told Convenience Store News.

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Study: Shell Receives the Most Fueling Visits in U.S.

3

Casey’s Fills Newly Created Chief Information Officer Role

4

Wawa Adjusts as COVID-19 Restrictions Begin to Ease

In its petroleum and convenience store annual competitive study, Market Force Information found that Shell receives the most fueling visits, representative of its large market share, but Kwik Trip Inc., QuikTrip Corp. and Wawa Inc. “fiercely compete” for the lead with nearly identical Composite Loyalty Index scores.

Adrian Butler joined Casey’s General Stores Inc. to help steer the convenience retailer through the next generation of technology. In the newly created role of chief information officer, Butler will lead all information technology strategy, innovation, modernization and delivery.

Wawa Inc. is making key changes to its operations and response to the COVID-19 pandemic as some regions begin the transition to a new normal. These changes include launching the Wawa Clean Force; adding more protections and safety policies; helping customers continue social distancing with visual markers; and a renewed focus on making visits fast and friendly.

5

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE

Massachusetts’ Flavored Tobacco Ban Takes Effect

Adult tobacco consumers can no longer buy flavored tobacco products at retail stores or online in Massachusetts. The statewide ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products — including menthol — went into effect June 1. Gov. Charlie Baker signed the ban into law in November, making Massachusetts the first in the country to enact a ban statewide.

EXPERT VIEWPOINT

BP Embraces the Evolution of the Retail Fuels Industry Focused on the future of the retail fuels industry and keeping pace with the fast rate of innovation, BP is giving its branded marketers a lot to be excited about this year, and onward. With its U.S. headquarters based in Chicago, the global producer of oil and gas has developed multiple initiatives to support retail growth in the United States throughout 2020. In an exclusive interview, Nicola Buck, head of marketing for BP Fuels North America, discussed the highlights with Convenience Store News. For more exclusive stories, visit the Special Features section of csnews.com.

MOST VIEWED NEW PRODUCT

Swisher Sweets Collectible Summer Pouches

The classic and satisfying smoke of Swisher Sweets Original Red is being dressed up in four new colors to start summer off with a bang. Swisher Sweets Original Red collectible summer pouches are available for a limited time in four unique Fourth of July-themed designs. The seasonal-design pouches come in a variety of market-driven price points, while supplies last.

Redesign Your Food Packaging for Pandemic-Wary Customers The COVID-19 crisis has necessitated changes in behavior in all of us. These behavioral changes, which include staying at home, social distancing and wearing a mask while grocery shopping, are necessary but life-altering. This will hopefully become a thing of the past at some point. However, these precautions have altered the way we think now and will think in the future, writes Tom Cook, principal at restaurant and foodservice consultancy KingCasey. For savvy foodservice and convenience store brands, this change in thinking represents a big opportunity to better connect with and engage their customers. The mechanism for capitalizing on this big opportunity is Innovative Pandemic Packaging (IPP).

Swisher International Jacksonville, Fla. (800) 874-9720 swisher.com

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HELP GROW YOUR CATEGORY WITH THE MARKET SHARE LEADER!

PUT YOUR LIPS FIRST

Learn more at Chapstick.com

Contact your local ChapStick representative on how to order or email Scott.F.Breisinger@gsk.com

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INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

C-store Retailers Ride a Wave of Optimism Into Summer 2020 A Convenience Store News poll found most respondents expected their business to return to 75 percent of normal by July 1 By Don Longo

across the United States are getting back to business, and convenience store operators are feeling good that they will bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic sooner rather than later.

CITIES AND TOWNS

In a recent online poll conducted by Convenience Store News, half of the respondents said they believed that by July 1, their business would have recovered to at least 75 percent of its pre-coronavirus pandemic level. A quarter of respondents believed their business would have recovered to between 50 percent and 70 percent. Surprisingly, one-fourth of respondents believed their business would have recovered completely by July 1. On the other hand, a little more than a quarter (27 percent) predicted their business would be less than half of what it was prior to the pandemic. In-store, the health crisis has had the biggest negative impact on sales of dispensed beverages and fresh baked goods, according to the poll. Both are self-service categories in c-stores.

Nearly half of respondents (49 percent) said hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages were their least successful product categories during the pandemic, while another 27 percent cited baked goods as being the most negatively affected by the economic shutdowns across the country. Almost one in five (18 percent) said their candy and snack sales were hurt the most. On the positive side, c-store alcoholic beverages have been the biggest beneficiary of the forced closings of bars and restaurants around the country. More than half of respondents (56 percent) said the alcoholic beverage business was their most successful category over the past month. Grocery staples — like bread, milk and eggs — were also cited by 22 percent of respondents as their most successful category. The pandemic spurred many c-store retailers to launch or accelerate the launch of new technology-enabled programs. Half of respondents said they launched or enhanced contactless payment programs in the past month, while a quarter (26 percent) said they began focusing on curbside or pumpside pickup. Drive-thru and home delivery were fairly low priorities comparatively. Only 6 percent of respondents said they’ve looked more closely at drive-thru operations and even fewer — just 4 percent — said they had launched or enhanced home delivery services in the past month.

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Marathon Petroleum Delays Speedway Spinoff The retail network is now slated to become a separate company in early 2021 MARATHON PETROLEUM CORP. (MPC)

was on track to spin off its retail arm, Speedway LLC, later this year. However, the coronavirus pandemic has led MPC to adjust its timeline. In a June 15 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, MPC reported it is postponing the spinoff of its retail network by a few months. “In light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on market conditions, MPC continues to assess the timeline for the Speedway separation. The initial target for the separation was the fourth quarter of 2020, but has been revised to early 2021,” said Molly Benson, MPC’s vice president, chief securities, governance and compliance officer, and corporate secretary. “The separation remains subject to final approval by MPC’s board of directors, as well as the satisfaction or waiver of certain other customary conditions,” she added.

venience stores. MPC will retain its direct dealer business, which primarily operates on the West Coast; this separately managed business within the retail segment is only fuel supply with no merchandise sales. News of the pushed-back separation date comes as reports also point to MPC entertaining offers for Speedway for the second time this year.

In October 2019, Findlay, Ohio-based MPC announced it would spin off Speedway into an independent company. The decision came after a 10-month corporate strategic review following MPC’s tie-up with Andeavor.

In February, Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., parent company to 7-Eleven Inc., and TDR Capital, the private equity firm behind U.K.-based EG Group, emerged as potential buyers. Subsequent reports indicated MPC and Seven & i Holdings were in exclusive talks. However, those talks fell apart as the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe.

Under the plan, the new Speedway will consist of all of MPC’s company-owned and company-operated con-

Enon, Ohio-based Speedway has a network of roughly 4,000 convenience stores across the U.S.

FAST FACTS

More than one in four consumers now uses convenience store/ gas stations apps, with adoption quickly growing among those aged 25-34.

The percentage of customers paying for gas with cash dropped from 21 percent to 14 percent as individuals have shied away from handling cash in the current climate.

— Market Force Information

— NACS National Consumer Survey

Looking at postCOVID-19 pandemic snack-buying habits, 51 percent of consumers say they will trade up on confectionery to compensate for reduced expenditure elsewhere.

— The NPD Group

— FMCG Gurus

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Drive-thru accounted for 46 percent of all restaurant occasions during the month of April, primarily at quick-service restaurants.

2020

Convenience Store News

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Customers can order through a store associate or via the Wawa mobile app.

INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

per gallon on the first 40 gallons and 3 cents per gallon afterwards on each fuel purchase.

Retailer Tidbits

Wawa Inc. launched curbside ordering at multiple convenience stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with plans to expand the offering. Each participating store has six to 10 parking spots designated for the service. Alltown Fresh launched four new methods of contactless shopping: fresh crates, meal prep and provisions, curbside pickup, and delivery through Grubhub. Kwik Trip Inc. saw its in-store dairy purchases increase substantially during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The chain also inked a deal to become the official milk supplier to schools in Whitehall and Arcadia, Wis. RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. unveiled RaceTrac Rewards VIP, a monthly fuel subscription program. For $2.49 per month, members can save 10 cents

Supplier Tidbits

ement even’s o its ntry.

General Mills will source 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 as part of its RE100 global corporate initiative. The company’s investments in renewable energy efforts include two large-scale wind farms. Sonoma Brands completed its acquisition of artisanal jerky brand Krave from The Hershey Co. for an undisclosed amount. The portfolio of protein snacks includes Krave Meat Cuts, Krave Pork Rinds and Krave Plant-Based Jerky. The Hershey Co.’s Ice Breakers brand launched a campaign about mask breath. The mint and gum maker thanks consumers for wearing a mask and reminds them to protect themselves from the unintended consequences of bad breath.

Ferrero anticipates adding 250 local jobs as part of the opening.

Ferrero USA Inc. opened a new distribution center in McDonough, Ga. The 728,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin operations by early September.

Kum & Go LC added mobile fuel pay to its mobile app. Members of its rewards program can skip the keypad and activate the pump with their smartphone. Royal Farms joined forces with Heavy Seas to release World Famous, a limitedtime pilsner beer brewed to be paired with the retailer’s World Famous Fried Chicken.

7-Eleven Inc. will not celebrate 7-Eleven Day on July 11 this year due to uncertainties associated with the coronavirus crisis. The retailer will still mark the occasion, though, by donating 1 million meals to Feeding America.

GasBuddy commemorated its 21st anniversary by recognizing the 27 different ways it enables drivers to save on fuel and launching the “27 WAYS TO SAVE” game. Motorists can participate and win $100 in free gas. As part of a multi-year agreement with Florida Citrus Sports, Cheez-It is moving east to become the title sponsor of the Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The Necco Wafers brand is returning to store shelves two years after Spangler Candy Co. purchased the brand out of bankruptcy. The brand’s comeback collection features eight all-time favorite flavors and colors. Standard Cognition acquired Milan, Italy-based Checkout Technologies. The deal increases the size of Standard’s engineering team and seeds its European presence.

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Seen on Social Choice Market, Denver How are you staying healthy and hydrated? Keep your immune system strong and combat dehydration by filling up with great tasting, sustainable water at Choice Market. Help us reduce plastic waste by purchasing a FloWater multi-use bottle for $2.99, or bring your own water bottle to fill up. This way you can stop in for free refills as often as you want! #DrinkFloWater #StayHydrated

Stewart’s Shops, Saratoga Springs, N.Y. In these difficult times, we are happy to be delivering some positive news. COVID-19 has negatively impacted many groups in different ways and Stewart’s Shops is helping in a big way. To date, Stewart’s has allocated over $790,000 of financial assistance to various organizations as part of COVID-19 relief efforts. In addition, thousands of gift certificates for milk and eggs have been sent to food pantries to cope with the overwhelming demand for food. CEFCO Convenience Stores, Temple, Texas On Thursday, May 21st, we proudly opened our newest store in Temple, Texas! This store features our first-ever CEFCO Kitchen, where you can pick up fresh, made-to-order burritos. We also had the opportunity to share some with the first responders and medical professionals at Children’s Miracle Network. Thank you for all that you do! Be sure to stop by and check out CEFCO Kitchen at 5951 Airport Road #CEFCO #CEFCOKitchen #ChildrensMiracleNetworkHospitals @ CEFCO Convenience Stores

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Calico Brands, Inc. • (800) 544-4837 • www.calicobrands.com

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INDUSTRY ROUNDUP

Eye on Growth

“WHEN YOUR STORAGE NEEDS KEEP CHANGING, I CHANGE WITH THEM.”

TravelCenters of America Inc. (TA) is actively pursuing franchising opportunities for business growth. Eight new franchise sites are already open or were expected to open during the first half of 2020. Kum & Go LC welcomed customers at its first urban store. The downtown Des Moines location focuses on sustainability with reusable cloth bags, compostable silverware and straws, and recyclable cups and lids.

KERRY JOHNSON WHS & OPS MANAGER

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Getty Realty Corp. added 12 properties to its portfolio in the first three months of 2020. The total acquisition price was $57 million. Heas Energy Services LLC is acquiring 10 gas station and c-store sites in central Virginia. The deal consists of eight company-operated stores that operate under Express Lane and two sites that operate under the commission agent class of trade. CEFCO Convenience Stores opened its first CEFCO Kitchen in its latest Temple, Texas, store. The 6,037-square-foot location is the chain’s first ground-up build in 2020. Enmarket’s newest Savannah, Ga., store will serve as the prototype for future new builds as the chain expands. The 5,893-square-foot store is now open following a complete rebuild and soft opening in late March. Tiger Fuel Co. acquired 40 percent of the shares of fellow Charlottesville, Va.-based Altenergy Inc., a solar energy company. This is the first step in a planned acquisition of the entire company come March 2021. Casey’s General Stores Inc. acquired Center Point Travel Plaza in Center Point, Iowa, from Petroleum Services Co. LLC. The travel plaza features McDonald’s and Subway restaurants. CSN

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“WHEN YOUR SHELVES ARE EMPTY, I ROLL UP MY SLEEVES.” PAUL OBOS MERCHANDISER

Shelves don’t stock themselves. Predictable stocking times used to make stocking easy, but now, every day is totally different. And absent employees leave no one to do the job. Paul Obos gets it. He’s doubled his own workday, visiting twice as many stores to help with planning, stocking and even cleaning. Having a partner on-site so often has helped restore some normalcy to the shelves and stores.

CanDoDoneDaily.com for the full story Del Monte word mark and the Del Monte Shield Logo are registered trademarks used under license from Del Monte Foods, Inc. © 2020 Del Monte International GmbH . All rights reserved.

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1. Starburst Swirlers Starburst Swirlers are a juicy mashup of the brand’s traditional flavors in a new vertical shape. For the first time ever, the brand is offering a new way to enjoy Starburst with these unique stick-shaped treats available in three flavor mashups: StrawberryCherry, Strawberry-Orange, and Cherry-Lemon. Starburst Swirlers are sold in a 2.96-ounce Share Size pack with a suggested retail price of $1.99. Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. Hackettstown, N.J. mars.com

2. Heineken 15-Count Multipack The Heineken 15-Count Multipack includes 12 cans of Heineken Original Lager and three cans of Heineken 0.0. The innovative configuration is perfect for traditional beer drinking occasions, while also providing the opportunity to enjoy the same Heineken taste when alcohol is not desired, according to the company. Heineken 0.0 is an alcoholfree lager that’s brewed with a unique recipe for a balanced taste, and contains just 69 calories per serving. Heineken USA White Plains, N.Y. heinekenusa.com

3. Johnsonville Ultimate Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage Johnsonville introduces a new offering for the roller grill: the Ultimate Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage. This flavorful smoked link is made with fresh cuts of premium pork, real diced jalapeños, and melted cheddar cheese. The Ultimate Jalapeño Cheddar Sausage can be topped with nacho cheese, pickled jalapeños and salsa for a restaurant-quality sandwich. Available 10 pounds to a case, the product comes fully cooked and frozen, and has a four-hour hold time. Johnsonville LLC Sheboygan Falls, Wis. (800) 837-5391 cstore.johnsonville.com

5. The L-Guard System Lancer Worldwide introduces an accessory line developed to ensure hygienic protection throughout the beverage dispensing experience: The L-Guard System. The first product in the line is a Valve Guard that can retrofit easily with existing Lancer Worldwide machines. The Valve Guard is designed to protect the valves, levers and dispensed beverages from contamination throughout frequent daily use. The guard slips around the outside of the dispenser housing, and attaches to a foam adhesive backed tab. No tools are needed for setup.

4. CBD Living Sparkling Water CBD Living Sparkling Water is available in four flavors: Orange Grapefruit, Peach Honey, Strawberry Lavender, and Apple Ginger. Each can contains 25 milligrams of nano-CBD sourced from organic U.S.-grown hemp. The beverages are vegan, gluten free, certified kosher, and contain zero THC. They are sold in single cans, a four-can variety sample pack, and cases of 12 or 24 cans. CBD Living Corona, Calif. cbdliving.com

5

Lancer Worldwide San Antonio lancerworldwide.com/l-guard

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SPECIAL SERIES ON MOBILE ORDERING

Sponsored by

Stepping Up the Pace COVID-19 prompts rapid deployment and expansion of mobile ordering and delivery By Debby Garbato

STRIVING TO BETTER serve busy consumers, convenience stores have spent the past few years slowly building and perfecting mobile ordering and delivery platforms for foodservice. But when COVID-19 hit this March, on-the-go consumers stopped going anywhere. Within a few short weeks, retailers had to shift gears to accommodate this new mindset.

Working at breakneck speed, they launched and expanded programs. Initiatives involved everything from new menu options, to delivering non-foodservice offerings to markets served, to new third-party delivery partners. Some replaced existing apps with more sophisticated technologies. Others added options like curbside and contactless order pickup. “C-stores responded aggressively, rolling out programs faster than planned,” said Eric Dzwonczyk, global co-head of the restauarants, hospitality and leisure practice at AlixPartners. “7-Eleven began using Favor for delivery in Texas, while Sheetz rolled out GrubHub to almost 400 stores. Some chains expanded what could go into a mobile order, like groceries and general merchandise. Several months ago, many were just experimenting. Now, the world is fundamentally different and has challenged business.”

Traditionally, c-stores test concepts for several months or more. But the pandemic’s rapid spread left no time for pilots and phased rollouts. “C-stores’ game plan has typically been, ‘let’s try this at a few locations to see what it means,’” said Tim Ridgely, Paytronix’s head of order and delivery. “But many are moving faster.” An AlixPartners study conducted during the height of the pandemic (April 20-24) found many foodservice customers were choosing limited-contact options. Drive-thru (43 percent) was most popular, followed by traditional takeout and curbside pickup (33 percent each), telephone ordering (27 percent), online ordering (25 percent) and third-party delivery (18 percent).

Industry Leaders

Several c-store industy leaders in both foodservice and mobile ordering/delivery are in the Northeast, an area heavily affected by the coronavirus. QuickChek Corp. operates in the particularly hard-hit states of New York and New Jersey. In April, it rushed to add curbside delivery to its app. This doubled the basket size of typical mobile orders, helping to recoup some otherwise-lost business, said Don Leech, QuickChek’s vice president of marketing and development. “Overall sales declined 50 percent. But curbside grows weekly, increasing monthly performance. We’re getting customers we didn’t have before.” QuickChek launched mobile foodservice ordering four years ago and was slowly working on curbside pickup. “In mid-March, we realized we must speed up,” Leech explained. “By April 15, every store was on curbside, with special parking lot signs.” Kitchen monitoring systems inform the staff whether orders are for in-store or curbside pickup. Since curbside customers were requesting pantry items, QuickChek added about 50 popular non-foodservice SKUs to its mobile app offering. Come July, guests can also order through an upgraded loyalty app tied to DoorDash’s delivery platform.

At QuickChek stores, the addition of curbside pickup has doubled the basket size of typical mobile orders.

Another regional leader in the convenience J U LY

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This May, 7-Eleven added the Ready to Bake at-home line of refrigerated pizzas, chicken tenders, wings and taquitos to its ordering platform. It also partnered with Postmates, DoorDash and Google to expand mobile ordering/delivery to 90 percent of participating U.S. locations. “When we launched 7NOW, customers were time starved,” said Chris Tanco, chief operating officer. “[But] the definition of convenience has rapidly evolved during this pandemic. Extraordinary times have accelerated efforts. Customers need delivery to stay safe and get products. We’ve seen an uptick in demand.” Additionally, 7-Eleven’s Stripes stores teamed up with Favor and Postmates this past spring to offer delivery from 380 Stripes locations, as well as Stripes’ Laredo Taco Co. restaurants in several markets. These partnerships — along with the 7NOW app — also serve 7-Eleven’s four new Evolution Store test locations, which have restaurants. Research shows many foodservice customers today are choosing limited-contact options, with drive-thru being the most popular.

channel, Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc., now offers mobile ordering thorough its own app and ordering/delivery through Grubhub. Stores feature drive-thrus and in-store pickup areas. Meanwhile, competitor Wawa Inc. now delivers to 95 percent of its markets via DoorDash, Uber Eats and Grubhub. Wawa is also expanding curbside pickup. On April 30, Pittsburgh-based GetGo, the convenience store division of Giant Eagle Inc., launched mobile ordering/delivery with DoorDash at 86 of its 270 locations. “We’d been working with DoorDash in a selective pilot,” said spokesperson Jannah Jablonowski. “But consumer habits were changing rapidly. Fewer people came into the stores. COVID-19 forced us to be aggressive about streamling the experience. It was a catalyst.” Aside from DoorDash, GetGo orders can be placed through parent company Giant Eagle’s app. The two-year-old app processes payments as well. Customers can choose pickup locations and times. GetGo stores have dedicated pickup areas and new curbside service. “We wanted to step it up with contactless pickup,” said Jablonowski. 7-Eleven Inc., with almost 12,000 North American stores coast to coast, launched its proprietary 7NOW ordering/delivery app three years ago. It now serves 400 cities. Available items include 3,000-plus foodservice, grocery, general merchandise and alcoholic beverage items.

“We’re continuing to explore and expand delivery options for restaurant concepts to ensure customers can get what they want from the comfort of home,” said Tanco.

Beyond the Northeast

While initially less affected by the coronavirus, large regional c-store chains outside the Northeast were equally aggressive about growing mobile ordering/delivery services. In April, Iowa-based Casey’s General Stores Inc. expanded its DoorDash relationship to include 579 locations across 16 states, and made dozens of non-foodservice items available for delivery. Casey’s also employs its own drivers and delivers from 1,000-plus stores. QuikTrip Corp. expanded mobile ordering via its app for its 800-plus stores. The March initiative followed successful testing in QuikTrip’s hometown of Tulsa, Okla. Groceries and general merchandise were added to the offer, and it introduced On-Lot Pickup. Spokesperson Mike Thornbrugh said QuikTrip wants “to make shopping more seamless and convenient. We’ve been working on this [app] for several months.” While it is early to gauge results, he noted that “most orders have been for full-service kitchen items.” (QuikTrip first launched a mobile foodservice ordering app for select locations in 2017.) Experts applaud these retailers’ quick reactions to changing shopper demands. Still, AlixPartners’ April study found that just 7 percent of consumers prefer c-stores for off-premise ordering during the pandemic. This puts c-stores at the bottom of the list. The top choices were fast food (52 percent), pizza (51 percent) and casual chains (40 percent). Ben Jakes, a principal at Kearney’s consumer practice, said c-stores with mobile ordering/delivery are still a small part of the overall c-store pie. Winners have both successful technologies and strong foodservice brands. “You must be known for something to win in digital ordering. Casey’s has

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pizza, Wawa has sandwiches, and 7-Eleven is known for Slurpees and snacks. They emphasized foodservice pre-COVID. But they represent about 10,000 stores, a small piece of the c-store industry. QSRs are more than double the penetration,” Jakes noted. For convenience stores without strong foodservice brands, physical and mobile customers do not behave alike. Those who order food at physical c-stores are often drawn by tangible convenience. “Most people buy c-store foodservice because it’s physically convenient when they’re getting gas or it’s down the block,” said Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus, a nonprofit, member-driven technology organization dedicated to the convenience store and retail fueling market. Proprietary mobile apps can help c-stores attract mobile ordering/delivery customers and build brands. They communicate directly with shoppers, allowing retailers to lure and retain customers with special offers, loyalty programs and promotions. Additionally, they do not highlight other foodservice brands, as opposed to third-party apps that do. “Third-party apps are a great acquisition channel,” said Paytronix’s Ridgely. “But when you open Uber Eats, there’s other options. With first-party apps, you own guest relationships, data and transaction history, and can include promotions and loyalty programs. The big hurdle is getting guests to download them. Offering a full digital experience is super important.” Many c-stores are not there yet. While leading chains have stepped up timetables and added mobile ordering/delivery apps and amenities, others continue testing technologies. “When they say they’re doing it, many people are kicking tires and experimenting,” said Taylor. “Some haven’t worked out the economics. Many things must function well for this to work. It’s no small job. And many convenience stores haven’t justified foodservice enough for it to stand up online.” CSN

The Dos and Don’ts of Mobile Ordering & Delivery DO: • Define goals before developing a mobile app. Study other companies’ apps to get ideas. • Tie loyalty programs to mobile app ordering. It is a fly wheel that will pay future dividends. • Research how your brand appears in digital searches. Does the Google knowledge card look good and link back to the first-party guest experience? Google offers many helpful tools here.

Gray Co

• Give shoppers the brand experience they expect, ensuring orders are accurate, on time and can be paid for via the app. Clunky apps will just annoy them. • Have an established foodservice brand before launching a mobile ordering app. Otherwise, you will not stand out. • Consider operational elements. For example, how to set up curbside pickup or which bags/containers work best for different foods. DON’T: • Rely soley on a third-party partner as an e-commerce solution. Without a firstparty app, you are not top of mind. • Test your mobile ordering app forever; launch it sooner rather than later. • Release an app before it is ready just to get one out there. • Spend tons of money on a “super app.” Add one function at a time, get it working, and then move on to the next function. • Make your mobile ordering menu too limited. Shoppers who cannot find their favorites will explore other options. • Vary items by store; offer top sellers chainwide.

7-Eleven’s 7NOW delivery service offers more than 3,000 items, including foodservice, grocery, general merchandise, and alcoholic beverages. J U LY

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SPECIAL SERIES ON MOBILE ORDERING

Sponsored by

Convenience Stores & the Contactless Future a particular customer regularly stops at a c-store after work, buying a Coke, cigarettes and a large Milky Way bar. Sometimes, he fills up his gas tank or purchases beer. But more often, the visit is to break up his day or the ride home.

PICTURE THIS:

Since the pandemic began, however, he has not been coming as regularly. While it is possible his schedule changed, he is more likely acting out of fear. Before March, shopping decisions mainly revolved around the speed at which transactions could take place; now, they are motivated by health concerns. His question now is: “How do I get what I want while touching as little as possible?”

Scott Walters

Most convenience stores have taken the first steps toward creating a radically changed, contactless, post-pandemic world by erecting plexiglass shields and taping social distancing markings on the floor. For some customers, this may be enough. But others have different comfort levels and will want a different experience. There is no one “contactless experience” that works for every brand and customer. Instead, it is about finding options that work for each brand and each individual.

But those contactless payments require customers to enter the store. And some prefer not to. This is why mobile order and delivery have seen demand spike during the pandemic. From a mobile phone, the regular customer mentioned above can order his snacks and have them delivered to his home, work or pick them up curbside. The customer interacts through his mobile device via a native app or a mobile website. But there are some technological and operational challenges for the c-store. The simplest way to make mobile ordering and delivery work is through a tablet placed next to the POS. This acts as an order management system, letting staff know when orders come in. Once the order is filled, the store operator touches a button, letting the customer know in real-time that his order is ready. The customer has a simple way to pay for that order, get loyalty points and, thanks to a re-order button, can save his favorite orders for future use. Then, the customer signals his arrival through a button on his app and the order is delivered curbside. There are other technologies to consider, including those that allow in-store contactless shopping or can activate fuel pumps via a mobile device. No matter which direction any c-store brand moves, we know one thing is certain: contactless is here to stay. A founding member of Paytronix Systems, Scott Walters leads a c-store sales team that supports more than two dozen industry leaders, including Maverik, Family Express and MAPCO.

Some options are fairly mature, such as credit card tap-and-go or tapping a mobile wallet through NFC technology. Loyalty, however, can create complications since it involves two transactions at the pointof-sale. A contactless environment means eliminating things like handing over cards or punching numbers into a pin pad. Instead, a simple QR code in an app can pass information to the POS system. And when configured with NFC loyalty, customers can provide both payment and loyalty information in a single tap when paying with a Google Pay or Apple Pay mobile wallet.

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7. Twix Cookies & Creme Ice Cream Bar Inspired by the candy bar, the Twix Cookies & Creme Ice Cream Bar is packed with creamy vanilla ice cream mixed with chocolate cookie pieces, and topped with crunchy chocolate cookies. The new frozen treat is available nationwide in singles (2.9 ounces) and multipack boxes (11.58 ounces). Mars will spend the summer scouring social media to find and gift Twix Cookies & Creme Ice Cream Bars to fans in need of a smile. The brand encourages fans to post on social media using #TwixIceCream for consideration.

8. Big League Chew Slammin’ Strawberry Slammin’ Strawberry is the newest flavor to join Big League Chew’s shredded bubble gum roster. Available at retail stores beginning this spring, Slammin’ Strawberry is exclusive to the brand’s softball character pouch line. It features an aspartamefree formula and is the first of Big League Chew’s products to roll out the new formula throughout 2020. Ford Gum & Machine Co. Akron, N.Y. bigleaguechew.com

Mars Wrigley Confectionery U.S. Hackettstown, N.J. twix.com

10. Lid Boss Touchless Lid Dispenser

9. Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew The new Cafe Agave Spiked Cold Brew line brings together two of the most social drinks: coffee and wine. Made with super-premium ingredients, including 100 percent Arabica Columbian cold brew coffee and fermented agave, the gourmet spiked cold brew is equivalent to drinking a half-cup of coffee and one cup of wine. With a 12.5 percent ABV, the drink comes in four coffee-forward varieties: Caffe Mocha, Vanilla Cinnamon, Salted Caramel, and Espresso Shot. The product is available in both singles and four-packs. Cafe Agave Inc. La Jolla, Calif. cafeagave.com

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COVER STORY

Profiles in Resiliency The c-store industry’s small operators innovate to keep pace with the changing times A CONVENIENCE STORE NEWS STAFF REPORT

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W

hen the 2020 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count was released earlier this year, there were two major story lines: the first, there was a dip in the number of U.S. convenience stores overall; the second, single-store operators accounted for most of that decline. Single-store operators still make up 62.1 percent of all the c-stores in the United States. However, their ranks are increasingly under pressure from industry consolidation, cross-channel competition, profitability challenges, and now the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis. Smaller companies — those in the two-to-10, 11-50 and even 51-200 store range — are also feeling the effects. Meanwhile, operators with more than 200 c-stores have been capitalizing, expanding through acquisitions as more operators seek to exit the business. Just a little over half of the small operators (1-20 stores) surveyed in Convenience Store News’ inaugural State of the Small Operator annual report (see page 44) said their annual revenues increased last year. They reported a mean average sales increase of 1.7 percent for the year — slightly lower than the overall 2019 convenience store industry sales gain of 1.9 percent. In spite of the challenges, though, many of the c-store industry’s small operators are responding to adversity with creativity and innovation. They are modernizing their businesses, finding and filling unmet needs in the communities they serve, delighting customers with out-ofthe-box retail experiences, and using their smaller size and nimbleness to their advantage. In this issue, we spotlight three small operators in particular — Tiger Fuel Co., a nine-store chain in central Virginia; Choice Market, a soon-to-be three-store chain in Denver; and Oasis Travel Center, an independent operator in Robertsdale, Ala. — that are shining examples of the resiliency that is on display every day across the nation at small operator-run stores.

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COVER STORY

Tiger Fuel: Modernizing a Legacy The nine-store operator is ready for the future with a newly unveiled corporate identity By Danielle Romano AFTER NEARLY FOUR decades in operation, Tiger Fuel Co. sought to unify its family of brands with a new corporate identity that maintained its heritage while matching its focus on the future. The result is a modern and consistent look and feel that accurately reflects the quality of its products, services and team members, and includes several new initiatives.

Established in 1982 with the purchase of an Exxonbranded petroleum distributor in Charlottesville, Va., the company today operates: Tiger Fuel, a propane, oil and gasoline distributor; The Market, a chain of nine convenience stores in central Virginia; and 10 TigerWash car wash locations. All told, the company employs more than 270 staffers. The Market c-store concept has been around since 1991 when it was created by store manager and self-taught chef Patt Pitts. It was designed to be a place where the community could gather for fresh food, cold beverages, and provisions. Since then, the retailer has reimagined the taste of convenience and added the promise of fast, friendly and exceptional service. “The foundation of our business has always been to operate sparkling clean, well-stocked stores and work as a team to passionately serve our guests,” Sarah Whitney, marketing director for Tiger Fuel, expressed to Convenience Store News.

Tiger Fuel views its team members as its biggest brand ambassadors. The company’s goal is to attract and retain the best talent in central Virginia.

The company has a saying that sums up its approach to customer service: “We are pickle people!” The retailer believes in giving its customers “the pickle,” which essentially means going the extra mile to make every guest happy. “Whether that’s greeting customers with warm smiles and big hugs, lending a helping hand, or taking the time to remember customers’ names and personal stories, we believe in giving our customers the pickle!” Whitney explained.

Full Steam Ahead

Tiger Fuel initiated the corporate rebranding in February 2019. The process began with an assessment of its current look, market research, a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis, and selection of an agency to help modernize its look and feel. Ultimately, the company selected a local Charlottesville design studio, Iconograph, and over an eight-month period, new branding and logos were designed, and a style guide and brand assets were compiled. “Now that we have matching color palettes, iconography, fonts and illustrations, we are able to cohesively market and promote our three brands. Our brand identity now matches the amazing customer service, our awesome ‘pickle people,’ and the delicious food that we serve,” Whitney said. “As we continue to grow, we’re glad to have a blueprint for what the stores should look like in terms of layout, design and application. We will be able to make more efficient and strategic decisions as we grow, keeping in line with the new brand identity that we developed.” As of press time in late June, one of Tiger Fuel’s nine The Market locations had completed the new imaging. The retailer anticipates finishing the remaining eight stores over the next two months. All of its TigerWash car washes now feature the new brand signage.

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COVER STORY

Rolling out the new identity during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been without its challenges. Tiger Fuel opted to work with local signage vendors to support the local economy, so the undertaking has taken some extra time to complete. “We’re still working on the implementation of all signage (in-store and exterior signage, coffee, fountain drinks, menuboards, gift cards, etc.). This will take some time, but we’re hopeful to complete [it] in the first and second quarter of 2020,” Whitney shared. Tiger Fuel recently revamped The Market’s uniforms and outfitted the entire team with clothing from the Lands’ End line. Managers are now wearing professional oxford shirts with sleek, black aprons, while store associates have the choice between red, black or white Dri-FIT polos.

As part of its new corporate identity, Tiger Fuel introduced a new loyalty program and mobile app.

“Our team members are our biggest brand ambassadors. When they feel confident and proud of the way they look, that translates into amazing customer interactions and memorable guest experiences,” Whitney noted.

“While we certainly did not plan to begin online ordering in a pandemic, we were prepared to fulfill customers’ orders electronically and deliver curbside. This allowed us to stay competitive in the restaurant space during a challenging time, and we had a visual identity that we were proud of,” said Whitney.

Digitizing the Offer

A Focus on People

Debuting a new brand identity brings with it opportunities to execute new initiatives. Tiger Fuel rolled out a new website and a new online ordering system, in addition to The Market Rewards loyalty program and mobile app powered by Paytronix. Through The Market Rewards program, guests can: • Use the mobile app or website to order ahead, prepay and pick up; • Receive a 20-cent-per-gallon fuel discount for registering their loyalty card; • Easily earn and track points on eligible purchases at the pump and in-store; • Redeem points for their favorite items; and • Participate in the Sandwich Club or the Beverage Club. “We’re excited to introduce our new loyalty program and mobile app, The Market Rewards, to better reward guests for their loyalty, and make ordering our delicious sandwiches easier than ever before,” said Maurice Lamarche, Tiger Fuel’s retail director. “We designed this program to give our customers more of the items they want, when they want them, and thank them for their loyalty to The Markets.” By providing an in-house online ordering service, The Market customers can have a more efficient and convenient experience. “With third-party vendors such as Grubhub or Uber Eats, the commissions can be very high and we can’t guarantee that food will be delivered promptly. Our goal is that guests who order directly through our channels can pick up freshly prepared food at our markets in a timely manner,” Lamarche explained. The Market’s online ordering and pickup system was piloted at the retailer’s deli locations at the beginning of the year and officially launched in early March as the COVID-19 pandemic forced all c-store retailers to rethink and adapt services to better meet the needs of consumers.

As a family-run business, Tiger Fuel feels it is important to continually invest in its team. Its goal is to offer competitive wages and attract and retain the best talent in central Virginia. The company implemented an 11-percent wage and salary increase, on average, in November 2019. The increases varied by position, experience, tenure, and other variables. To make these raises possible, Tiger Fuel invested an additional $300,000 more on wages than in the previous year. Earlier in 2019, the company partnered with CareTeam to open a new health center dedicated to employees and their families. Employees can schedule appointments and be seen by a full-time nurse practitioner. Preventive visits are free and all other visits require just a $25 copay. “We are deeply committed to investing in our people and designing a benefits package, called Tiger Life Care, that supports our employees’ overall health, wealth and quality of life,” said Ryan Whitlock, director of human resources. “In addition to health insurance and vacation benefits, Tiger Fuel offers a 401(k) retirement plan, financial wellness support, employer paid life and disability insurance, an employee assistance program, subsidized gym membership, employee discounts on fuel and car washes, and a holiday bonus.” Looking toward the future, the retailer is confident that its new imaging coupled with “great rewards” and “amazing people” working in its stores will make all the difference. “As a family-owned and -operated business, we strive to provide our team with a great workplace, the best benefits, and the ability to build a long and rewarding career at Tiger,” Lamarche said. “We’re proud to invest in our employees and know it will inspire everyone to be the best version of themselves and provide the best customer service experience in our community.”

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COVER STORY

Choice Market: Always Tweaking The small Denver chain has big plans for expansion as an omnichannel retailer By Renée M. Covino ON THE HOT sandwich

menu, there’s the choice of a Wild & Tamed Mushroom Sandwich, made with wild and tamed mushrooms, aged cheddar cheese, Fresno chili, charred onions and aioli on a toasted, locally made hoagie roll for $11. On the cold sandwich menu, there’s the BLAHT Sandwich, made with local bacon, local lettuce, avocado, heirloom tomato and aioli on locally made sourdough bread for $11. If you’re more interested in a bowl, there’s the Southern Comfort Bowl, made with hatch chili mac and cheese, buffalo cauliflower, crispy free-range chicken, Meyer lemon and pico for $14.

some tweaks since its flagship store opened in October 2017 in the heart of downtown Denver, across the street from the historic Brown Palace Hotel and occupying the ground floor of a high-rise apartment building.

All of these unique made-to-order choices, and more — including sides, soups, breakfast options, smoothies and coffee — are the menu fare of Denver, Colo.-based Choice Market, a new kind of convenience store chain that was awarded Convenience Store News’ Foodservice Innovator to Watch award in 2019.

In contrast, Fogarty saw a lack of innovation in the American c-store space for some time. “If you look where the demographics are headed — our millennial target market, in particular — they’re living in larger and urban cities. They’re driving less and having fewer kids. That means the 100,000-square-foot grocery store doesn’t fit their needs, nor does the 2,500-square-foot legacy c-store. So, there’s a gap in the marketplace,” he explained.

About to open its third Denver store, with a fourth location also signed and slated, Choice (its banner name) has undergone

“Tweaking, we’re always tweaking and refining our product selection,” said Mike Fogarty, founder and CEO of Choice Market. “It will forever be a work in progress.” The concept was Fogarty’s brainchild after living overseas for eight months and experiencing Barcelona, Spain’s urban, small-format grocery stores on every corner. “I loved it — the convenience and the quality. I was in there every day buying three or four things,” he recalled.

Choice is designed to fill that gap by being a fresh foodfocused, modern-day convenience store that values health and convenience, with an offering of mostly premium products, according to Fogarty.

Constant Refinement

Even for a chain named Choice Market, there is such a thing as offering too much choice and too much flexibility, the retailer found in its first year of operation. So, Choice partnered with Erik Oberholtzer, cofounder of Tender Greens, a fast-casual restaurant chain that opened in 2006, to shrink its menu and get more focused. Tender Greens is known for serving fresh, highend food at affordable prices. Previously, in its Bowls offering, Choice offered bowls that customers could customize in any way. “We had bowls that people could do anything with, and they were picking items that didn’t go well together. They were creating things that weren’t tasty and they didn’t realize it until after they made them,” Fogarty recounted. With Oberholtzer’s input, Choice “reigned in” its Bowls section, creating a build-your-own bowl option that now steers customers toward more palate-pleasing combos.

Choice Market is slated to open its third location on July 15.

Choice also tweaked its menu so it now highlights: “100-percent organic produce here.” The menu changes three times a year to feature local, seasonal produce — spring, summer/harvest, and fall/winter. “It’s not the whole menu that changes, just a few items, especially in the Bowls section,” Fogarty explained.

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COVER STORY

Essential to the Choice brand, according to the founder, is its 100-plus Colorado partner companies. This includes City Bakery for breads, River Bear American Meats for proteins, and a variety of local farming companies. “We have a somewhat-limited growing season in Colorado — it’s more limited than California — but there’s still amazing produce that comes out of Colorado, like our peaches and our corn, and we want to highlight those,” he said. “These local food partnerships are ingrained in our brand.” On the walls throughout the stores, there are callouts to educate customers about these partnerships. Additionally, there is a large, green sign beside the overhead menu that lets them know Choice is “committed to working with local producers who supply us with high-quality and sustainable ingredients.” The sign calls attention to: • Antibiotic and hormone-free proteins, certified humane, vegetarian fed; • Sustainably raised seafood; • Organic produce and dairy; • Cage-free eggs; • Fresh bread from local bakeries; • Pristine greens grown year-round in Denver; and • Heritage grains from near and far, supporting a more resilient future. Beyond fresh food, Choice continues to make tweaks in other parts of the store offering, too. Recently, the small operator decided to eliminate its display of fresh breads. “We initially thought we were going to sell so much bread and so, we allotted for a huge, beautiful wooden display case of it. But as it turns out, our target market isn’t eating much bread; they’re eating healthier grains and other things,” Fogarty told CSNews. In place of the bread display will be a very recognizable c-store staple: beer. Choice will soon have a “build your own six-pack” section. The product mix will be frequently monitored and refined using data and statistics.

Digital Enhancements

The third Choice store, which will open about a mile south of the flagship store (the second store opened a mile east of the flagship in October 2019), will be the company’s first c-store/gas/supercharger location. It will also mark a digital milestone. “With the gas and supercharging will come our full new app in e-commerce. It will be the start of our new digital user experience, including pre-ordering, delivery and loyalty,” said Fogarty, noting that the idea is to create one, unified, omnichannel experience. “That was always my vision with this concept five or six years ago, but you have to crawl before you can run,” he explained. “Now, it’s coming to fruition and it is so cool to see. I think our customers will love it. Everything in-store will be deliverable.”

Choice Market aims to fill the gap between the 100,000-square-foot grocery stores and the 2,500-square-foot legacy convenience stores.

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COVER STORY

That includes alcohol. Currently, Colorado law prohibits alcohol to be delivered by third-party operations such as Uber Eats. Choice Market, though, has a liquor license and will have its own delivery vehicles, which means it will not be restricted in that way. “So that’s going to be huge — our adult customers can get groceries, high-quality prepared foods and liquor delivered to their door. It will be the first of its kind around here,” he said. “I’m pumped about it. We’re embarking on a big thing; a big project for us.”

Brick & Mortar Forever

Despite Choice’s new digital focus, Fogarty still believes in the longevity of brick-and-mortar convenience stores, and the small operator has plans to keep expanding. “One hundred percent. Brick and mortar will always have validity, there is no doubt in my mind. You hear about ghost this and that, and there is a place for that, but people are still living their lives; they’re still dropping kids off at soccer practice and walking around being real humans,” he said. “To us, as an omnichannel player, brick and mortar is the hub. It maximizes our revenue per square foot and creates that brand affinity. I’m a huge proponent of physical

retail space, particularly in convenience, because it’s all about proximity.” Choice Market has big plans to grow its physical retail space. Its five-year business plan calls for roughly 30 Choice stores across three or four markets. “The grocery side of business, specifically, has a scale. It’s very difficult to operate with one or two stores,” said Fogarty. “For us to compete from a price perspective and drive the volume we need and reap efficiencies, we feel it’s in our best interest to keep building, and that includes a commissary that will support all of it. It’s just a matter of when, where and how quickly.” Fogarty considers Choice a nationally relevant brand. “I think this is something that plays well in suburban Charlotte and downtown Los Angeles and everything in between,” he stated. “I believe we can fulfill the needs of soccer moms who want high-quality, on-the-go meals for their kids, as well as millennials living and working in urban America.” As it expands beyond Denver, Choice will probably go west before it goes east, according to Fogarty. “Seattle, L.A., San Francisco, Austin — I see those types of cities as being similar to Denver and probably where we’ll head to first.”

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COVER STORY

Oasis Travel Center: A Destination Like No Other Fun and whimsy are at the heart of this 18,000-square-foot retail experience By Renée M. Covino

Mobile, Ala., and Pensacola, Fla., is the crash site. It happened atop a pair of hot steel rails, racing ahead at full throttle, the countryside a blur, the wind as loud as thunder. One moment, you’re moving so fast that nothing in this world could stop you, and the next, you’ve crashed into the side of an Alabama truck stop.

“I get to work at Disneyland every day,” says General Manager Dale Elks, referring to the many “theme park” features of the travel plaza. “Everything is built around a travel theme in a fun and whimsical way,” he told Convenience Store News.

According to Oasis Travel Center, this is the story of its Derailed Diner, where hungry customers can saddle up to the bar, dine at one of its pickup truck tables, or go for a ride in its “crashed” dining car. From the outside, the Derailed Diner appears to be three train cars crashed into the back of the building. The unconventional restaurant experience is just one of the many unique facets of this independent travel center in Robertsdale, Ala. — an 18,000-square-foot retail experience that almost has to be seen to be believed.

• A VW hippie-themed bus sticking out of the front façade; • A psychedelic entrance into the shopping area; • Nautical gifts sold on the dock of a sunken pirate ship; • High-end western gifts in the “The Corral” section, complete with a covered wagon; • Toys merchandised in a separate playhouse built inside the store; • A space-themed coffee station called the “Filling Station;” • Two quick-service restaurants: Chester’s and Subway; • 117 different craft beers; • Fresh, gourmet popcorn; and • A game room.

HALFWAY BETWEEN

At least one major facility enhancement a year has been completed ever since Elks purchased the site in 1996. Some of what customers experience includes:

At the travel center’s Derailed Diner, customers can eat inside its “crashed” dining car or at one of its pickup truck tables. 40 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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COVER STORY

With no real view of the store interior from the outside, Elks put up 8-by-10foot posters on the outside, showing what the inside looks like. Sales went up 25 percent. “Truckers who come just to fuel up see it and think, ‘Wow, I got to check this out,’” he relayed. “We work hard to make this a destination.”

Talk, Listen & Tweak

In addition to the one major facility enhancement each year, there is a continual effort put forth at Oasis Travel Center around merchandising tweaks to maximize sales. In the candy area, for instance, slower-moving items such as nostalgic candies were put closer to the entrance, prompting more customers to see and purchase them. “We use some of the old merchandising models that JCPenney used,” Elks explained. “Basically, you’ve got to continuously move things around a bit. If you take a shirt rack and rotate it a quarter-turn every month, customers will get out of their tunnel vision and take notice of something they didn’t see before. If everything looks the same on their way to the restrooms, they’re not going to stop. But if you spin the gondolas up or put them in a different aisle, they’ll find something new. You’ve got to keep changing up the travel pattern around the store.” Talking and listening to customers is also considered an important factor in the store tweaks. Doing so has produced positive results. Elks pointed in particular to its grocery category, which has grown year over year for the last four years because “we did our research; we listened to customers.”

“Customer service is the biggest part of our success. If people don’t have a good time in Disneyland, they’re not coming back.” — Dale Elks, Oasis Travel Center

Sales went up 25 percent when Oasis Travel Center put up outdoor signage promoting its many unique in-store offerings.

The travel center now devotes about 500 square feet to fresh meat, produce, pet food, and other grocery items after hearing RV customers express frustration that the nearest grocery stores were 20 minutes away. “Grocery has been a major boom for us, even though we don’t make a huge margin on it,” said Elks, noting that the retailer is in the 20-28 percent margin range with grocery items, vs. about 40 percent at grocery stores. “This is an instance where it’s better to turn more volume than more margin.” He also learned from talking to customers in nearby RV camps that they mostly buy everything in twos, rather than in higher bulk packaging — two steaks, two chops, two chicken breasts. “Their RV refrigerators are smaller than what they have at home, so they don’t have the space. We asked them how they wanted their meat packaged and we accommodated that,” he said. The one exception is hamburgers, his customer research revealed, so Oasis packages four 8-ounce hamburgers to a pack. Out of the grocery category comes the travel center’s No. 1 seller across the whole store: four boiled eggs and a pack of crackers packaged in a clamshell grab-and-go pack for $2.49. “They’re selling like hot cakes for the last couple of years,” Elks said. Its No. 2 best-seller is not in the grocery category; it’s not even consumable. It’s the Purple Seat Cushion, which comes in three different sizes and styles, and sells for $49.99 to $99.99.

The Little Things Matter

While Oasis Travel Center is a ginormous c-store

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destination experience, it is the “little things” that really make a difference, according to Elks. “Customer service is the biggest part of our success,” he shared. “If people don’t have a good time in Disneyland, they’re not coming back.” And so, Oasis strongly believes in hiring friendly staffers who will “bend over backwards for every customer, getting to know their names and their needs.” Elks encourages all of his managers to constantly walk the store and talk to customers. “Only administrative work should get them off the floor. Exceptional customer service is the cheapest and easiest way to distinguish yourself as a retailer,” he said. Elks also applies the two-way communication philosophy to his staff. He maintains an open-door policy. “All my employees talk to me because I tell them it stays between you, me and the fencepost,” he said, adding that his turnover rate is low.

The Future Post COVID-19

Like all businesses on the planet these days, the coronavirus has had good and bad effects on Oasis Travel Center. In the negative column, four-wheel traffic has slowed down quite a bit, and overall sales are down 40

percent from last year, according to Elks. “We’ve made staffing adjustments, moving everyone around to keep everyone employed,” he explained. “It’s all hands on deck in times like these and because of everyone being so flexible, we were able to keep everyone employed.” The coronavirus temporarily halted Oasis from putting in a full commercial laundromat, but Elks hopes to get the equipment ordered very soon. “It’s a pretty hefty investment, but again, we did our research and it’s 25 minutes before you can get to a laundromat from here. We think this is going to drive a lot of revenue for us,” he said. Elks anticipates a return to a new normal soon. Preparing for that day, the retailer recently hired a new cook to create daily specials, all made from scratch. In the positive column, the coronavirus pushed Oasis to launch mobile and online ordering. “Now, we intend for it to stay forever with the company,” he said.

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Convenience Store News

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COVER STORY

Weathering the Storm The c-store industry’s small operators face a tougher post-pandemic future than the larger chains By Don Longo

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COVER STORY

MORE THAN HALF of the convenience store industry’s small operators (1-20 stores) said their annual revenues increased last year, reporting a mean average sales increase of 1.7 percent — remarkably similar to the 1.9 percent overall convenience store industry sales gain of 2019.

However, because these small operators are generally more dependent on fuel sales than the larger chains, their 2020 revenues are expected to be more negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the nationwide shutdowns that have significantly curtailed convenience store traffic, starting in March 2020. Half of the retailers surveyed in Convenience Store News’ inaugural State of the Small Operator annual report said their fuel revenues declined in 2019. Volume was essentially flat, with 40 percent reporting increased gallons sold, 30 percent saying gallons declined, and an additional 30 percent saying their fuel volume was the same as in 2018. With fuel prices dropping to historic lows and fuel volume down in excess of 50 percent in some regions during the first few months of this year, c-store retailers of every size are facing serious shortfalls in foot traffic and fuel profits so far in 2020. On the positive side, in the stores, sales of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and liquor) and tobacco (both cigarettes and other tobacco products) have remained strong throughout the ongoing pandemic. According to the findings of the first-ever State of the Small Operator report, 56.4 percent of small operators said their perstore merchandise sales increased last year, while only 18 percent reported a decline, for a net average increase of 2.2 percent. That’s a half-percent below the total industry average increase in merchandise sales of 2.7 percent, as reported in the 2020 CSNews Industry Report, which surveys single-store owners to the largest U.S. c-store chains. While small operators appear to be more dependent on fuel sales than the larger chains, they are also less dependent on foodservice. Forty-three percent reported an increase in foodservice sales in 2019, compared with 22 percent that saw a decline. The average increase in foodservice sales among small operators

was 3.4 percent — significantly below the total industry average of 5.2 percent. Foodservice — which includes prepared foods and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages — has been among the categories most adversely affected by the pandemic shutdowns, so operators are likely less sanguine about prospects for this year’s foodservice results. At small operator-run locations, the average number of weekly in-store transactions per store last year was 2,800, up 2.3 percent from the previous year. Comparatively, industrywide, weekly in-store transactions averaged 3,260 per store, down a half percentage point year over year. Weekly motor fuel transactions per store at small operator-run locations were up 1.7 percent, to an average of 2,175 transactions. Industrywide, weekly fuel

Average Total Dollar Sales per Store 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

23.1% Decreased

25.6%

Net change

1.7%

Increased

51.3%

Average In-Store Merchandise Sales per Store 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

25.6% Decreased

18.0%

Net change

2.2%

Increased

56.4%

Average Foodservice Sales per Store 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

35.1% Decreased

21.6%

Net change

3.4%

Increased

43.3%

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COVER STORY

Average Number of Weekly Transactions per Store Average Fuel Dollar Sales per Store 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

Net change

31.8% 50.0%

-1.4%

Decreased

Stayed the Same

40.0% 30.0%

Net change

30.0%

0.8%

Average Fuel Gross Margin Cents per Gallon 2019

22.4 19.2

2018

Category Closeup: Prepared Foods Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

50.0% Decreased

16.7%

2018

% change

2.3%

2,175 2,135

1.7%

Motor fuel

Average Dollar Amount per Transaction 2019

2018

% change

In-store (including merchandise & foodservice) $11.40 $10.85 5.1%

Average Fuel Gallons Sold per Store 2019 vs. 2018 Increased

2019

In-store (including merchandise & foodservice) 2,800 2,725

18.2%

Net change

4.2%

Increased

33.3%

Motor fuel

$30.75 $ 28.90 6.4%

transactions averaged 2,294 per store last year, a decline of 1.4 percent from 2018. The average dollar amounts per transaction increased for small operators last year. Inside the store, the average ring for merchandise (excluding fuel) was $11.40, up from $10.85 in 2018. The average ring for a fuel-only purchase was $30.75, up from $28.90 the previous year. Industrywide, those figures were $9.02 and $31.82, respectively. The average sales area of a small operator’s store is 2,450 square feet, just slightly larger than the total industry average of 2,425 square feet. Total store size for small operators is 3,470 square feet, also larger than the overall industry average of 3,225 square feet. In addition, 20 percent of small operators’ stores include a car wash.

MOTOR FUELS PERFORMANCE

Half of the industry’s small operators saw their fuel dollar sales decline last year because of a decline in per-gallon gas prices, though 32 percent did see an increase. The average price per gallon dropped from $2.66 in 2018 to $2.57 last year. The average gross margin cents per gallon, however, to 22.4 cents, up from 19.2 cents per gallon in 2018. Overall, small operators experienced a lower decline in fuel dollar sales (down 1.4 percent) than the industry average (down 4.3 percent). As mentioned earlier, gallons sold were essentially flat (up 0.8 percent). Small operators report having an average of seven fuel dispensers per store. In terms of the types of fuel offered, 82 percent of small operators report selling diesel, 22 percent say they sell E85, 13 percent sell E15, and less than 2 percent sell biodiesel. Electric vehicle charging is offered by just 3 percent of the small operators surveyed.

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COVER STORY

Category Closeup: Hot Dispensed Beverages Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

Category Closeup: Frozen Dispensed Beverages Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

62.5%

46.7% 20.0%

Net change

3.8%

33.3%

Category Closeup: Cold Dispensed Beverages Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

37.5% 25.0% 37.5%

Net change

3.3%

Category Closeup: Cigarettes Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

28.6% Net change

0.7%

Decreased

28.6%

Increased

42.8%

0% 37.5%

Net change

6.6%

FOODSERVICE PERFORMANCE

A third of small operators report their prepared food sales increased last year, while half said they stayed the same. On average, they reported a net increase of 4.2 percent, trailing the industry average gain of 5.9 percent by more than a full percentage point. In hot dispensed beverages, 46.7 percent of small operators reported increased sales, while one-third said their hot beverage sales were flat. The net average gain totaled 3.8 percent. Again, that increase fell short of the total industry growth of 5.1 percent. Equal percentages of small operators (37.5 percent) said their cold dispensed beverage sales either increased or stayed the same, for a net increase of 3.3 percent. The total industry increase in average sales per store for cold dispensed beverages was higher, at 4.6 percent. Nearly two-thirds of small operators said their frozen dispensed beverage sales rose in 2019, and not a single operator reported a decline in sales of these icy confections. On average, small operators reported a sales increase of 6.6 percent vs. a 12.5 percent overall industry gain.

TOBACCO PERFORMANCE

Category Closeup: Other Tobacco Products Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

22.2%

Increased Net change

7.4%

Decreased

11.1%

66.7%

Forty-three percent of small operators said their cigarette sales revenue increased last year, vs. 28.6 percent that experienced a sales decline in the cigarettes category. Small operators averaged a net gain of only 0.7 percent in cigarette sales; however, that was still better than the industry average, which was down 0.8 percent. In the other tobacco products (OTP) category, two-thirds of small operators saw increased sales. Only 11 percent said their OTP sales declined last year. Small operators averaged a net gain of 7.4 percent in OTP sales, while the industry average was up 16.8 percent.

BEVERAGE PERFORMANCE

Packaged beverage sales last year increased for nearly 45 percent of the small operators surveyed by CSNews. A third of respondents said their packaged beverage sales stayed the same as the previous year. Small operators averaged a net gain of 3.5 percent in packaged beverage sales in 2019, compared to the industry average, which was up 5 percent.

50 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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Category Closeup: Packaged Beverages Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

Category Closeup: Candy Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

44.5%

Category Closeup: Beer/Malt Beverages Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

Category Closeup: Salty Snacks Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Increased

Category Closeup: Wine & Liquor Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Decreased

Stayed the Same

33.3%

Net change

Net change

More than half of small operators (56 percent) also reported increased sales of wine and liquor last year, while a third of respondents said sales were the same as in 2018. The average per-store sales increase for wine and liquor among small operators last year was a solid 7.1 percent. Wine and liquor proved to be a burgeoning business throughout the c-store industry, with per-store sales rising 9.2 percent industrywide.

CANDY & SNACKS PERFORMANCE

Half of all small operators saw growth in sales of

Increased

Decreased

Stayed the Same

37.5% Net change

12.5% 50.0%

4.0%

candy last year, while one-third said their sales in the category stayed the same as the previous year. The net gain for small operators was 5.1 percent, beating the industry average increase of 4.7 percent. In salty snacks, 62.5 percent of small operators reported higher sales than in 2018. A quarter said their salty snack sales stayed the same. The average net gain for small operators in salty snacks was 6 percent per store — again bettering the industry average of 4.2 percent. For the alternative snacks category, 37.5 percent of small operators said their sales rose, while half reported flat sales. The net gain for small operators averaged 4 percent per store, compared with the industry average per store of a 3.5 percent increase.

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6.0%

Category Closeup: Alternative Snacks Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

7.1%

In the beer/malt beverages category, a third of small operators said their sales rose, while more than half (55.6 percent) reported flat sales. Nevertheless, the net average gain for the category at small operators was 2.1 percent, which was better than the 1.7 percent industrywide increase.

Stayed the Same

25.0%

55.6% 11.1%

12.5%

55.6%

Decreased

62.5%

2.1%

11.1%

Increased

5.1%

33.3%

Net change

33.3%

Net change

16.7%

3.5%

33.3%

Stayed the Same

50.0% Net change

22.2%

2020

Convenience Store News

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COVER STORY

GROCERY PERFORMANCE

Most convenience retailers across the country are currently reporting strong grocery sales as consumers have been turning to c-stores to fill in gaps for milk, bread, eggs and other basic items due to overstressed grocery stores. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, small operators were seeing robust grocery sales — nearly 60 percent of small operators reported their grocery sales rose last year, and none reported a sales decline in the category. The average net gain reported was 5 percent, bettering the industry average gain of 4.6 percent.

Category Closeup: Edible Grocery Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

Increased

42.9%

57.1%

Net change

Decreased

5.0%

0.0%

Category Closeup: Nonedible Grocery Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

Increased

37.5%

50.0% Net change

Decreased

12.5%

4.7%

Nonedible grocery also performed well last year for small operators. Half of respondents said their nonedible grocery sales increased, and nearly 40 percent said their sales of these products remained the same as in 2018. On average, small operators saw a 4.7 percent increase in nonedible grocery sales last year, slightly better than the 4.5 percent industry average.

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GENERAL MERCHANDISE & HBC PERFORMANCE

Category Closeup: General Merchandise Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018

Small operators also performed a bit better than the industry average with general merchandise (GM) sales. In 2019, general merchandise sales at small operators were up 1.2 percent, while the total industry saw a decline of 1.5 percent. Thirty percent of small operators said their GM sales increased last year and another 30 percent said sales remained the same as in 2018. Thirty percent of small operators also reported increased health and beauty care (HBC) sales last year, while half said their HBC sales were flat with the previous year. Small operators overall averaged a 2 percent increase in HBC sales in 2019, according to the State of the Small Operator annual report. Industrywide, HBC sales were up 1.3 percent on a per-store basis. CSN

Stayed the same

30.0%

Increased

Decreased

Net change

30.0%

1.2%

40.0%

Category Closeup: Health & Beauty Care Average Sales per Store, 2019 vs. 2018 Stayed the same

Increased

50.0% Decreased

Today's consumers are

20.0%

Net change

30.0%

2.0%

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FEATURE

The Future of M&A By Melissa Kress

The top convenience store chains retained their rankings over the past 12 months, but what effect the pandemic has on industry consolidation remains to be seen few years, it’s seemed that nothing could curb the consolidation wave that was washing over the convenience channel. Big brand names traded hands as even bigger names competed for them. The majority of the past 12 months has been no exception.

OVER THE PAST

As the 2020 Convenience Store News Top 100 report shows, merger and acquisition (M&A) activity continued to be a key trend in the industry over the past year, driving the top chains to keep a tight grasp on their titles, as others jockeyed to become the next big c-store player. 54 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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TOP 100

TOP 100 2020 Rank

2019 Rank

1

1

The percentage of the industry’s total stores operated by the top 100 increased by one point to 43 percent. The top 100 operate 63,843 stores, up from 63,258 in 2019. The percentage of stores operated by just the top 10 chains also grew Company, City, State

7-Eleven Inc.

year over year, rising by one point to 28 percent. The top 10 chains operate 42,698 stores, up from 41,804 the prior year. In a similar picture to 2019, this year’s top 10 remains largely unchanged. Irving,

Annual ACV* ($000)

Total U.S. Store Count

$34,996,312

9,419

1,740

7,679

$27,991,912

6,924

5,955

969

$24,227,632

6,020

3,384

2,636

Marathon, Rich Oil, Speedway, ampm/Andeavor, Flyers, Giant, Giant Service, Howdy's Foodmart, Mustang, SuperAmerica, Tesoro, USA Fuel Center, USA Gas, USA Mini Mart, USA Petroleum

$11,955,632

4,159

9

4,150

Shell

$29,727,308

3,801

13

3,788

Chevron, Chevron ExtraMile, Texaco

$9,359,584

3,292

0

3,292

Exxon, Exxon On The Run, Exxon Tiger Mart, Mobil, Mobil Mart, Mobil On The Run

$11,745,708

3,090

0

3,090

Amoco, ampm, Arco, Arco Thrifty, BP, BP Connect, BP Shop

$8,553,220

2,210

2,210

0

$12,875,356

2,047

1,685

362

$9,939,488

1,736

78

1,658

APlus, Aloha Island Mart, Coastal, Menehune Food Mart, Sunoco

$3,494,660

1,356

0

1,356

CITGO

$3,148,340

1,241

1,241

0

$3,469,752

1,115

0

1,115

$10,389,340

897

897

0

Wawa

$10,168,600

828

828

0

QuikTrip

$6,201,520

803

558

245

RaceTrac, RaceWay

$3,402,360

781

0

781

Valero

$2,944,500

717

692

25

Flying J, Mr. Fuel, Pilot Express, Pilot Food Mart, Pilot Travel Center

$2,765,360

683

683

0

Kwik Star, Kwik Trip, Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocer

$7,375,420

604

604

0

Sheetz

$3,447,444

572

572

0

AAFES Exchange Store, Coast Guard Mini Mart, Marine Corps Shoppette, NEXCOM Mini Mart, Shoppette, Troop Store

$1,472,120

516

516

0

Love’s Country Store, Love’s Travel Stop

$540,436

411

411

0

Yesway

$2,330,640

401

401

0

Kum & Go

$762,320

378

44

334

CompanyOperated Stores

Franchise/ Licensee Stores

Primary Store Names

7-Eleven, Stripes, Tedeschi Food Shop, White Hen Pantry

Irving, Texas 2

2

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.

Couche-Tard, Circle K, Holiday

Laval, Quebec, Canada 3

3

Marathon Petroleum Corp. Findlay, Ohio

4

4

Shell Oil Co./ Motiva Enterprises LLC Houston

5

5

Chevron Corp. San Ramon, Calif.

6

6

Exxon Mobil Corp. Irving, Texas

7

7

BP North America Houston

8

8

Casey's General Stores Inc.

Casey's General Store

Ankeny, Iowa 9

13

EG America Westborough, Mass.

10

9

Sunoco LP

Cumberland Farms, Fresh Eats MKT, Kroger Express, Kroger Fuel Center, Kwik Shop, Loaf ‘N Jug, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb, Turkey Hill Minit Market, EG America

Dallas 11

10

CITGO Petroleum Corp. Houston

12

11

GPM Investments LLC Richmond, Va.

13

12

ConocoPhillips/Phillips 66

Admiral Petroleum, Apple Market, BreadBox, E-Z Mart, Fas Mart, Jetz, Jiffi Stop, Jiffy Stop Food Marts, Li’l Cricket, Next Door Food Store, 1-Stop Food Stores, RStore, Roadrunner Markets, Scotchman, Shore Stop, Town Star, Village Pantry, Young’s 76, Conoco, Phillips 66

Houston 14

15

Wawa Inc. Media, Pa.

15

17

QuikTrip Corp. Tulsa, Okla.

16

18

RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. Atlanta

17

16

Valero Energy Corp. San Antonio

18

19

Pilot Co. Knoxville, Tenn.

19

20

Kwik Trip Inc. La Crosse, Wis.

20

22

Sheetz Inc. Altoona, Pa.

21

21

Military Arlington, Va.

22

23

Love's Country Stores Inc. Oklahoma City

23

48

BW Gas & Convenience LLC Beverly, Mass.

24

24

Kum & Go LC Des Moines, Iowa

25

25

CHS Inc.

Ampride, Cenex, CHS, Zip Trip

Inver Grover Heights, Minn.

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FEATURE

Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. keeps its title as the largest U.S. chain, with a total 9,419 convenience stores across the nation, according to the data provided to CSNews by Nielsen TDLinx.

Also in a repeat of last year, Laval, Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. and Findlay, Ohiobased Marathon Petroleum Corp. round out the top three. The percentage of the industry’s stores operated by just these three players continues

TOP 100 2020 Rank

2019 Rank

26

28

Company, City, State

Maverik Inc.

Annual ACV* ($000)

Total U.S. Store Count

CompanyOperated Stores

Franchise/ Licensee Stores

Primary Store Names

$715,260

349

349

0

Maverik

$1,655,680

345

345

0

Delta Express, Discount Food Mart, Favorite Market, MAPCO, MAPCO Express, MAPCO Mart

$576,420

338

338

0

Murphy Express, Murphy USA

$1,491,880

336

336

0

Stewart's Shops

$1,870,700

297

296

1

$627,640

273

273

0

Alltown, Alltown Fresh, Convenience Plus, Fast Freddie’s, Honey Farms, Jiffy Mart, Mr. Mike's, P&H Truck Stop, T-Bird, Xtra Mart

$3,742,180

256

236

20

Petro Stopping Center, TA, TA Express

$214,188

228

228

0

Timewise

$488,800

227

227

0

Royal Farms

$2,205,060

219

219

0

GetGo, Ricker's

$1,042,340

210

207

3

Country Fair, Kwik Fill, Kwik Fill & Smokers Outlet

$1,558,700

208

208

0

Stripes

$203,840

207

207

0

CEFCO Food Stores, Food Fast

$741,000

200

200

0

Thorntons

$390,000

186

186

0

Jacksons Food Store

$627,640

176

176

0

United Dairy Farms

$412,152

164

0

164

$1,156,480

161

161

0

QuickChek

$382,460

156

156

0

Hy-Vee Gas Station

$486,980

152

86

66

Choice, Express Lane, Hy-Miler, Joe’s Kwik Mart, Rocky Top Market, Uni Mart, Zoomerz

$1,296,880

146

146

0

Meijer Gas Station

$222,092

142

142

0

Terrible Herbst

$480,740

140

140

0

Par Mar Stores

$535,600

137

137

0

E Z Mart

$252,720

130

63

67

Convenient Food Mart

Salt Lake City 27

26

COPEC Inc. Franklin, Tenn.

28

29

Murphy USA Inc. El Dorado, Ark.

29

27

Stewart's Shops Corp. Ballston Spa, N.Y.

29

31

United Pacific

My Goods Market, United Oil, We Got It Food Mart

Long Beach, Calif. 31

32

Global Partners LP/Alliance Energy Corp. Waltham, Mass.

32

33

TravelCenters of America Inc. Westlake, Ohio

33

35

Texas Petroleum Group LLC Houston

34

38

Two Farms Inc. Baltimore

35

36

Giant Eagle Inc. Pittsburgh

36

40

37

39

United Refining Co. of Pennsylvania Warren, Pa.

Cal's Convenience Inc. Frisco, Texas

38

37

Fikes Wholesale Inc. Temple, Texas

39

41

Thorntons LLC Louisville, Ky.

40

34

Jacksons Food Stores Inc. Meridian, Idaho

41

44

United Dairy Farmers Cincinnati

42

46

Sinclair Oil Corp.

Sinclair

Salt Lake City 43

45

QuickChek Inc. Whitehouse Station, N.J.

44

47

Hy-Vee Food Stores Inc. West Des Moines, Iowa

45

43

Dunne Manning Inc. Allentown, Pa.

46

42

Meijer Grand Rapids, Mich.

47

54

Terrible Herbst Inc. Las Vegas

48

59

Croton Holding Co. Pittsburgh

49

49

Blarney Castle Oil Co. Bear Lake, Mich.

50

50

Convenient Food Mart Inc. Mentor, Ohio

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FEATURE

to increase. They now operate 22,363 stores, which accounts for 15 percent of the industry, up one point from 2019. This year’s ranking, though, does show some companies succeeding in climbing the ranks.

EG America, the U.S. retail division of United Kingdombased EG Group, cracked the top 10 to capture the No. 9 spot with 2,047 stores (up from No. 13 last year). The boost came largely as a result of EG’s acquisition of Westborough, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms. That transaction, which closed in October 2019, added more

TOP 100 2020 Rank

2019 Rank

51

67

Company, City, State

True North Energy

Annual ACV* ($000)

Total U.S. Store Count

CompanyOperated Stores

Franchise/ Licensee Stores

Primary Store Names

$256,620

129

129

0

True North

$585,000

123

123

0

Go Mart

$254,540

123

0

123

$516,880

123

123

0

Huck's

$271,700

119

0

119

Kwik Stop

$590,460

119

119

0

Duchess Shoppe

$329,160

114

0

114

Clark

$629,460

112

112

0

E-Z Shop, Enmarket

$389,480

112

110

2

Alta Convenience, Kwik Stop, Smitty's

$245,180

109

109

0

Mirabito

$463,580

108

108

0

Stinker Stores

$130,780

108

108

0

Plaid Pantry

$328,120

107

107

0

Little General

$314,080

101

101

0

Town Pump

$253,760

97

97

0

Family Fare

$216,060

93

93

0

Applegreen, Pitt Stop, S-Mart

$194,740

92

92

0

Star Stop

$375,700

90

90

0

Bucky's

$288,340

89

89

0

Daily's, T Fuel, Tri Star Energy, Twice Daily

$222,820

89

89

0

Han-dee Hugo's

$543,920

86

86

0

Fast Market, Fiesta Mart, Quik Way Food Mart

$276,120

85

85

0

Five Star Food Mart

$271,700

85

85

0

Spinx Store

$177,840

85

76

9

Quick Track

$379,860

84

84

0

2 Go Mart, Rebel

Brecksville, Ohio 52

52

Go Mart Inc. Gassaway, W. Va.

52

51

Krauszer's Food Store

Krauszer's Food Store

Edison, N.J. 52

52

Martin & Bayley Inc. Carmi, Ill.

55

56

Kwik Stop Inc. Plantation, Fla.

55

57

Englefield Oil Co. Heath, Ohio

57

55

Clark Brands LLC Naperville, Ill.

58

59

Enmarket Inc. Savannah, Ga.

58

58

Pester Marketing Co. Denver

60

62

Mirabito Energy Products Binghamton, N.Y.

61

66

Stinker Stores Inc. Boise, Idaho

61

62

Plaid Pantries Inc. Beaverton, Ore.

63

64

Little General Stores Inc. Beckley, W. Va.

64

68

Town Pump Inc. Butte, Mont.

65

69

M.M. Fowler Inc. Durham, N.C.

66

73

Petrogas Group SC LLC Lexington, S.C.

67

70

Panjwani Energy LLC Houston

68

75

Buchanan Oil Co. Omaha, Neb.

69

73

Tri Star Energy LLC Nashville, Tenn.

69

72

Sampson Bladen Oil Co. Inc. Clinton, N.C.

71

77

Empire Petroleum Partners LLC Dallas

72

78

Newcomb Oil Co. Bardstown, Ky.

72

81

The Spinx Co. Inc. Greenville, S.C.

72

164

Quick Track Inc. Marshall, Texas

75

71

C.A.R. Enterprises Inc. Upland, Calif.

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TOP 100

than 560 locations to EG’s growing U.S. footprint. Also making a strong showing in this year’s Top 100 report is Yesway, the operating banner of Beverly, Mass.based BW Gas & Convenience LLC. Operating out of Des Moines, Iowa, Yesway closed on the largest deal in its four-year company history when it acquired Allsup’s Convenience Stores in November 2019. This catapulted Yesway to No. 23 on the annual list, up from No. 48 in 2019 — an impressive jump of 25 spots.

Large & Well-Capitalized

Steve Montgomery, president of b2b Solutions LLC, is not surprised that this year’s Top 100 report doesn’t deliver any big surprises. He noted that the pace of consolation the c-store industry has experienced over the past few years is difficult to sustain. “One factor may also have been the shift in the sellers’ evaluation thinking. At one time, the seller priced their company on its historic results with some adjustments. The buyer looked at that data and based their willingness to pay based on the potential upside they could achieve,” Montgomery explained. “Today, that is often just the starting point. They also want the price to reflect some, if not all, of the potential upside to the buyer.” While c-store industry consolidation is certainly still at a much lower level than in the quick-service restaurant industry, where huge names like McDonald’s and

Burger King dominate that space, the convenience channel is seeing its top-tier group pull further and further away from their peers in terms of key metrics like sales and profitability, according to John Sartory, a managing director at Petroleum Capital & Real Estate LLC. “As the industry continues to consolidate, it is natural that you are going to see the largest, the most wellcapitalized companies in the industry — the Circle Ks, the 7-Elevens, the Speedways — become more entrenched,” he said. Joining the top ranks takes the right deal at the right time, and it also takes capital — something movers like EG America and Yesway have. “EG and Yesway have been able to jump because they are backed by large private equity companies. They have access to the capital to force their way into that very elite top-tier group,” Sartory explained, adding that it would be “almost impossible” for a privately held company with 100 stores to complete a 1,000-store acquisition. There could be some surprises, he acknowledged, but they would likely have to have some substantial backing from private equity that would give them the financial wherewithal to make that jump. “EG is the best example,” he noted. “They are backed by a European private equity company that has a lot of experience in the middle market space. They started their rollup in Europe, then jumped into the United States because of the fractured nature of it.” One possible contender that is closely following Yesway’s path, according to the M&A expert, is Charleston, S.C.based Refuel LLC. This February, the company expanded its footprint into two new states with an agreement to acquire Double Quick Inc., an Indianola, Miss.-based retail fuel distribution and convenience store chain that operates 48 stores across western Mississippi and eastern J U LY

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FEATURE

Sartory said. “They believe there is opportunity in the space, as consolidation continues, to do a rollup — a bunch of acquisitions — to drive rapid growth and get the economies in the industry to achieve a higher return on investment.”

Arkansas. With this deal, Refuel will up its portfolio to roughly 100 stores. “They are a new company that is driven and sponsored by a private equity company,”

TOP 100 2020 Rank

2019 Rank

Company, City, State

76

108

Bolla Management Corp.

Annual ACV* ($000)

Total U.S. Store Count

CompanyOperated Stores

Franchise/ Licensee Stores

Primary Store Names

$527,020

83

83

0

Bolla Market

$129,740

82

82

0

Crosby's

$122,720

81

81

0

Sprint Mart

$204,880

81

81

0

Toot N Totum

$323,700

79

79

0

Moto Mart

$139,360

78

78

0

Rutter's

$187,200

77

77

0

Big Apple

$151,840

76

76

0

Express Lane

$132,600

76

76

0

Break Time, MFA Oil, Petro Card 24

$147,160

76

76

0

Chucky's Food Store, Hess/Aldin Associates, Sam's Food Store

$190,840

75

48

27

Sunshine Express, Sunshine Food Mart

$143,000

74

40

34

Handi Plus, Handi Stop

$167,440

73

73

0

Family Express

$161,460

73

73

0

Inland Sun Stop, S&S Food Store, Sun Valley Market & Deli

$188,760

73

73

0

Minuteman Food Mart

$302,120

72

64

8

CoGo's, Ruff Creek Markets

$171,340

71

71

0

Gate

$125,840

68

68

0

BFS Foods

$247,260

68

38

30

One Stop WV, Stop In

$176,540

67

67

0

Weigel's, Jug O Milk Store

$188,760

67

67

0

Clark's Pump-N-Shop

$88,660

66

66

0

7-Eleven

$185,120

65

65

0

Hele, 76

$147,420

65

65

0

Dandy Mini Mart

$63,960

64

64

0

ABC Stores

Garden City, N.Y. 77

78

Reid Stores Inc. Lockport, N.Y.

78

75

Victory Marketing LLC Ridgeland, Miss.

78

83

Toot N Totum Food Stores Inc. Amarillo, Texas

80

85

FKG Oil Co. Belleville, Ill.

81

90

CHR Corp. York, Pa.

82

88

C.N. Brown Co. South Paris, Maine

83

83

Johnson Oil Co. Rock Falls, Ill.

83

87

MFA Oil Co. Columbia, Mo.

83

81

Sam's Food Store Rocky Hill, Conn.

86

89

Southeast Petro Distribution Cocoa, Fla.

87

95

Gulshan Enterprises Sugar Land, Texas

88

92

Family Express Corp. Valparaiso, Ind.

88

86

Southwest Georgia Oil Co. Bainbridge, Ga.

88

112

Campbell Oil Co. Elizabethtown, N.C.

91

94

Coen Oil Co. Canonsburg, Pa.

92

93

Gate Petroleum Co. Jacksonville, Fla.

93

99

BFS Foods Inc. Morgantown, W. Va.

93

90

Turn Outz Inc. Roanoke, Va.

95

95

Weigel's Stores Inc. Powell, Tenn.

95

98

Clark's Pump-N-Shop Inc. Columbus, Ohio

97

102

7-Eleven Hawaii Inc. Honolulu

98

102

Par Pacific Holdings Inc. Houston

98

99

Dandy Mini Marts Inc. Sayre, Pa.

100

105

MNS Ltd Honolulu

Source: Nielsen TDLinx, April 2020 Only U.S. stores are included in this ranking *All Commodity Volume (ACV) is provided by Nielsen TDLinx. ACV is an annualized range of the estimated retail sales volume of all items sold in a store that pass through the retailer’s cash registers. Lottery sales are not included; gas sales are included where applicable. The Nielsen TDLinx ACV is an estimate — a directional measure to be used as an indicator of company size.

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TOP 100 The c-store consolidation trend will not necessarily wane, according to Sartory, who believes there’s still room to grow and notes that the oil companies are showing interest again. “Look at BP’s initiative to buy Thorntons. Same with Chevron and Jacksons Food Stores. The oil companies are smart by teaming up with proven operators in the industry,” he pointed out. “Being in the retail industry means you have to be entrepreneurial, you have to be quick, you have to be nimble. So, people that see trends in the industry and move in that direction and take the initiative are the ones that will benefit the most. That goes against the grain of an engineering type of thought process that you see in oil companies.”

M&A on Pause?

Questions are emerging regarding what impact the coronavirus pandemic and the economic slowdown will have on industry M&A through the second half of 2020. There could be “somewhat of a pause” for a good portion of the year until the path forward for both the industry and the economy comes into a sharper focus, according to Sartory. That being said, the number of transactions that closed in the first quarter of the year was on nearequal historical footing with previous years. Notable transactions included Refuel’s acquisition of Double Quick and 7-Eleven’s acquisition of 7-Eleven Stores of Oklahoma.

before COVID will likely continue. 7-Eleven and Casey’s [General Stores Inc.], for example, have not wavered from their growth strategies.” In addition, master limited partnerships will have the continued need to accrete earnings to pay dividends. Smaller-sized buyers, though, may have less cash on hand to fund acquisitions.

Questions & More Questions

There is no doubt that uncertainly lingers, but for how long? One of the issues both buyers and sellers face is how to evaluate the impact the pandemic has had, and continues to have, on the c-store industry, noted Montgomery. “How do the parties evaluate the past 12 months’ sales and margins when at least five of them have been directly impacted by the pandemic?” he asked. “There have been many articles about the impact on store traffic, fuel

“I think the amount of M&A activity over the next couple of quarters is probably going to be muted. That doesn’t mean there is going to be nothing.” — John Sartory, Petroleum Capital & Real Estate LLC

“I think the amount of M&A activity over the next couple of quarters is probably going to be muted. That doesn’t mean there is going to be nothing,” he added. For example, his company, PetroCapRE, worked with Heas Energy Services LLC on the purchase of a 10-store chain in central Virginia. That deal required some additional work after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but it closed in June. “The original source of capital that was going to fund the transaction withdrew their offer because we were originally going to close around April 1. There was too much uncertainty. So, we worked with both the seller and the buyer to recast the deal, but we got it done,” he said. The pandemic may end up fueling future deals, pointed out Ken Shriber, managing director and CEO of Petroleum Equity Group. “We believe that the COVID quiet period will result in pent-up demand for acquisitions,” he said. “Active acquirers J U LY

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Under the new normal, Shriber sees it as unlikely that fuel demand will return to the previous 10-million-barrel level of demand in the U.S., given that business closures and unemployment will persist for a while. “Sporting events alone contribute 6 percent to fuel demand,” he explained. “We experienced a real shock and the impacts will linger in some form for at least the next 12 to 18 months through 2021. To what degree, there’s no crystal ball.”

Open for Business

It does help that c-stores were deemed an essential business and have remained opened during the pandemic. “I think one of the best investment stories, whether it be for a bank or private equity, is that the industry has been considered fairly recession-proof over the years,” said Sartory. “Historically, even in the worst of economic times, we did not have this tremendous downdraft in revenue and profitability.”

“We experienced a real shock and the impacts will linger in some form for at least the next 12 to 18 months through 2021. To what degree, there’s no crystal ball.” — Ken Shriber, Petreolum Equity Group sales, and margins. How do they predict the going-forward impact for the rest of 2020 and beyond?” Other questions being asked are: How long will the double-digit unemployment last? Will motorists take to the roads again? Will commuters even have an office to go back to? “The industry is heavily dependent on what has been referred to as the motoring public. What happens if companies determine their employees can and/ or should continue to work from home until some date in the future?” Montgomery posed. “This will not be true for all employees, but the percentage of long-term work from home is yet to be determined.” Sartory agrees. “Do we get all the way back to the miles driven on an annual basis pre-COVID or do we end up with maybe 10 percent below that? Then, you have a permanent 10-percent drop in volume for whatever dynamic reasons,” he said.

If you talk to sale/leaseback capital providers, 70 percent of retailers, like Gap Inc., stopped paying rent during the pandemic. However, Sartory points out that capital providers have said that almost all of the convenience and gas (C&G) operators who used sale/leaseback money to fund growth continued to pay rent and were not looking for rent relief. “Many of the national and small retailers in other industries stopped paying rent during the state-ordered lockdown periods. Since states have started to reopen, these retailers have started to resume rent payments. C&G operators, as a whole, continued to pay their rent during the lockdown periods,” he said. Overall, Sartory sees the convenience channel emerging with a favorable perception. “I think the storyline coming out of this is the C&G industry continues to be, during bad economic times, a pretty good place to invest your money — whether you are an individual looking to expand and use your own equity or whether it be a capital provider, senior lender, sale/leaseback or private equity company,” he concluded.

Moving M&A Forward

As the industry enters the second half of the year and the country begins to get back to business, there are some factors c-store retailers must consider when eyeing the M&A field. They include a higher cost of capital, at least for the short term; appraisals of a business that went through months of influx; and higher operational costs brought on by post-pandemic procedures like enhanced cleaning and reconfigured foodservice programs. “There are some real forces out there that are making some people pause. We are working on some transactions, but most of the buyers are saying they are not going to pay the same multiple they paid pre-COVID. They expect some concessions and, not surprisingly, sellers are trying to downplay this,” Sartory reported.

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“If I owned a really successful network of convenience stores, and unless I really had to sell, it might be logical to wait until 2021 to bring my sites to market.” By then, some of the credit issues and economic issues may have worked themselves out and the industry will have a better feel for how COVID affected the business. “I think there will be activity, but I think it will be slower for the rest of the year,” Sartory predicted. “Then again, many sellers who were positioning to sell may say it’s not a good year to put my network on the market.” Petroleum Equity Group expects many convenience industry retailers in the five- to 50-store range to come to market in the next two to three years. “I would be making this comment in the absence of COVID, but now it’s certainly more relevant,” said Shriber. “Large transactions are behind us, greater than 50 percent of owners in the U.S. have fewer than 10 sites, many are waiting to pick a time to exit, and COVID-19 will be the tipping point.”

What the impact on purchase prices will be remains to be seen. While the cost of capital is now lower, banks will be more selective and will take care of their existing clients first. In addition, it is worth noting that multiples will be buoyed by the investment community, preferring convenience and gas over shopping centers, by comparison, Shriber explained. He observed that private equity buyers “are already creating chatter, which is another good sign,” as a similar trend followed the 2009 financial crisis. “Bottom line: We are thankfully in a very robust, resilient and relatively stable industry despite the current disruption, which will attract M&A activity,” he said. “We closed two deals in the past three weeks, and a contract was signed for another multi-store deal at the end of May. So, let it be known that the virus did not kill M&A.” CSN

BIGGEST

MOVERS 2020 RANK

2019 RANK

SPOTS GAINED

Quick Track Inc.

72

164

Bolla Management Corp.

76

108

Yesway

23

48

Campbell Oil Co.

88

112

True North Energy LLC

51

67

Croton Holding Co.

48

59

The Spinx Company Inc.

72

81

CHR Corp.

81

90

Gulshan Enterprises

87

95

Petrogas Group SC LLC

66

73

Buchanan Oil Co.

68

75

92 32 25 24 16 11 9 9 8 7 7

COMPANY

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FOODSERVICE

FOOD I NSIGHT P O W E R E D B Y DATA S S E N T I A L

As Summer Heats Up, Cool Treats Take Off Stewart’s Shops’ ice cream limited-time offers highlight what flavors hit the mark Sometimes, Uniqueness Doesn’t Drive Desire

AS TEMPERATURES RISE, it’s no surprise that frozen treats are taking their place as some of the top menu scorers, but it’s time to break out of the basics with upgraded flavor experiences. For this month, using Datassential’s SCORES database, we dive into a couple of the latest ice cream limited-time offers (LTOs) from Stewart’s Shops to understand what flavors hit the mark.

Upgraded Flavors Make a Statement

Stewart’s Shops nearly had a clean sweep across all six metrics measured with its Bourbon Truffle Maker ice cream LTO. This brown butter ice cream with a sea salt caramel swirl and chocolatey bourbonflavored caramel truffles hits all the high notes — from Uniqueness (score of 98) to Branded and Unbranded Purchase Intent (scores of 97 and 92, respectively). While it may not have a consistently broad appeal, for the consumers that it does appeal to, they are completely into it, particularly men (score of 96) and Gen X (score of 100).

OPERATOR: Stewart’s Shops ITEM TYPE: Limited-Time Offer

Stewart’s Shops’ Mocha Caramel Crunch ice cream LTO doesn’t win on Uniqueness (score of 56), but this doesn’t hurt either its Branded or Unbranded Purchase Intent (scores of 94 and 90, respectively). At its core, the Mocha Caramel Crunch ice cream hits on some classic flavors that resonate with consumers — caramel ice cream with a mocha swirl, praline almonds, and milk chocolate cone pieces. While there is relatively broad appeal, this LTO makes its mark especially with women (score of 95) and virtually every generation except Gen Z.

Create a Premium Moment

Injecting a moment of indulgence or premium flair can be as simple as taking a familiar favorite and adding a unique inclusion or flavor to create a novel and approachable experience. Borrow from adjacent categories for inspiration to drive upgraded experiences, and embrace safe experimentation. CSN This data was sourced from Datassential SCORES, a database of consumer ratings for every new menu item at major chain restaurants and convenience stores. Learn more at www.datassential.com.

DATE: March 2020 PRICE: $2.49

DESCRIPTION: A treat your tastebuds will love! Try this brown butter flavored ice cream with a sea salt caramel swirl and chocolatey bourbon flavored caramel truffles.

92 unbranded PI

97 branded PI

98 uniqueness

31 frequency

95

57%

72%

58%

16%

52%

definitely or probably would buy

definitely or probably would buy

extremely or very unique

OPERATOR: Stewart’s Shops ITEM TYPE: Limited-Time Offer

would order the item all the time

draw

would visit somewhere just for this item

94 value

66%

excellent or good value for the dollar

DATE: March 2020 PRICE: $2.49

DESCRIPTION: Caramel flavored ice cream with a mocha swirl, praline almonds, and milk chocolate cone pieces.

90 unbranded PI

94 branded PI

56 uniqueness

72 frequency

92

56%

68%

39%

20%

50%

definitely or probably would buy

definitely or probably would buy

extremely or very unique

would order the item all the time

draw

would visit somewhere just for this item

97 value

72%

excellent or good value for the dollar

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FOODSERVICE

Grab & Go Gains Appeal The COVID-19 pandemic has consumers placing greater importance on safety and speed By Angela Hanson

the COVID-19 pandemic hit the foodservice industry like an earthquake, causing huge disruption and closing some businesses for good. Months later, industry insiders are still working to predict how long the aftershocks will last, and what form they will take.

EARLIER THIS YEAR,

For the convenience store industry, one question being asked by many is what the effect on made-to-order food vs. graband-go will be. With safety concerns higher than ever, will customers opt for the safety of prepackaged items over freshly made, customized fare?

For some consumers, the larger safety risk is time spent inside the store, so they are redefining grab-and-go to mean any products they can pay for quickly and leave.

Some experts have concluded that the answer is yes — at least in the short term. "We are seeing more consumers opt for something prepackaged for safety reasons," said Tim Powell, managing principal at consulting and insights firm Foodservice IP. "The thinking is the food handling by the staff is eliminated." C-store retailers such as Valparaiso, Ind.-based Family Express have recognized this and made changes to their operations as a result. Having nearly tripled the size of its hometown bakery distribution center last spring, the operator of 75 c-stores in northwest and central Indiana has adjusted its assembly line to wrap individual doughnuts as they come off the line. Family Express also started baking muffins in a square shape to fit in the plastic wrappers. "Our customers are very much interested in safer ways to get the same, or at least similar, products. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers when we started packaging our baked goods," said Ryan Fasel, director of marketing for Family Express. "Not only have we received feedback about how much they enjoy having the packaged product available, but we've been inundated with requests to expand our packaged offering." As part of recalibrating the approach to its foodservice products, promotions and meal deals, Family Express is also focusing on take-home offerings. "The reality of the situation was that people were making fewer trips out of their homes," Fasel said. "In some instances, instead of a doughnut everyday on the way to work, it became picking up a halfdozen or dozen doughnuts to get the family through a few days. So, we really focused our efforts on being a destination for those kinds of trips." The heightened safety concerns, though, don't mean all consumers have fully turned to prepackaged items like cold subs over freshly prepared hot food. Some c-stores report no significant difference in the types of offerings that are most popular with customers now.

Family Express adjusted its bakery assembly line so that it now wraps individual products in plastic wrappers as they come off the line.

While products with the highest perceived risk of direct exposure, such as items from the roller grill and bakery case, are likely to take the biggest hits, customers are still purchasing hot food while showing greater interest in mobile ordering, curbside pickup and drive-thru where available. For some consumers, the larger safety risk is time spent inside the store, so they are redefining graband-go to mean any products they can pay for quickly and leave.

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FOODSERVICE

Some of these changes in consumer habits could lead to permanent modifications in how foodservice programs are run, and what ordering and purchasing methods they include. However, multiple industry experts believe this won’t be true across the board, as some operations will eventually return to the previous normal, but with an increased focus on hygiene. In the meantime, retailers must strategize around the short-term needs and the long-term impact of the changes they make. Powell recommends c-stores develop different responses for a variety of strategic outcomes. "I think the type of consumer shopping will also dictate the type of service system that will be used," he noted. Foodservice IP has identified four customer mindsets developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, with each one having different impacts on the foodservice category: • The Fearful: These consumers are terrified the virus will kill them or their loved ones, resent those who do not follow safety guidelines, and will not shop or visit a restaurant until a vaccine

Retailers must strategize around the short-term needs and the long-term impact of the changes they make.

is found. Food handling concerns are also an issue when it comes to delivery. • Cautionaries: These consumers realize the severity of the virus and will follow state and federal rules. Their use of takeout and delivery is minimal, and they'll make use of the drivethru instead of entering the building. • The Followers: They view the virus as an inconvenience but are not distraught about it, and will sometimes wear protective gear if the social context calls for it. It is common for them to order food for takeout, curbside and delivery. • The Ambivalent: They throw caution to the wind, are unlikely to wear protective gear unless a retailer mandates it, and may resent others for taking the virus too seriously. Their behavior will return to normal once restaurant operations resume.

Meeting the Need With Expanded Offerings

Given the current circumstances, c-stores are most likely to find success by meeting customers where they are, which means expanding their meaning and availability of grab-and-go. "Packaged grab-and-go salad and sandwich displays have been a mainstay in c-stores, and we can expect this to expand to include more packaged hot food," Marilyn Stapleton, director of marketing for Anchor Packaging, told Convenience Store News. "Packaging changes may be needed to maintain food quality, and will need to be tested." Packaging is more important than ever. It plays a significant role in how consumers rate their off-premise dining experiences, according to Anchor, noting that many people turned to social media during the COVID-19 crisis to both praise well-packaged food that looked and tasted good and to complain about poor experiences. Such voices will continue to be amplified as usage of takeout and delivery remains high.

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Critical features of packaging for hot to-go food should include:

connected for the foreseeable future wherever food is sold."

• Leak-resistant, tight closures to avoid messy spills en route; • Special features to keep fried foods hot and crisp; • Reclosable bases and lids made with dishwasher-safe, reusable materials; • The ability to withstand temperatures up to 230 degrees Fahrenheit under a heat lamp or in the microwave; and • Capable of consumer reuse and being recycled after multiple uses.

The Future of Self-Service

The path to purchase has The path to purchase has become infinite. become infinite. We map the journey and We map the journey and give you back control. give you back control.

Still, while all food-focused convenience stores need to analyze their business and calculate which changes will benefit their programs in a post-COVID world, there is reason to believe that the eventual new normal will bear some resemblance to the old.

Anchor suggests the use of rigid, polypropylene plastic containers with either hinged or separate bases and lids over foam or paper, as they ensure the food maintains its taste profile. Stapleton noted that Anchor has seen an upturn in demand for takeout packaging across all foodservice segments. She believes that takeout, curbside pickup and delivery are "terms that will remain

Casey's General Stores Inc. President and CEO Darren Rebelez noted during the company's fourth-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings call that while he couldn't present empirical data, the retailer observed positive customer reaction when it began to relax restrictions on self-service. "All I can tell you is, people were complaining when we made the change; people were happy when we changed it back; and our sales have started to improve," he said. "So I would say, at least in this part of the world, people are preferring the selfservice model."

The path to purchase has become infinite.

Casey’s operates more than 2,000 convenience stores in 16 Midwest states. CSN

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TOBACCO

The COVID Climb The coronavirus’ impact on tobacco sales is up, down and, ultimately, on an even keel By Renée M. Covino

tobacco when the coronavirus pandemic hit is not unlike what happened with another consumer staple that begins with the letter “T” — toilet paper. Concerned consumers reacted to the uncertainty of the situation by stockpiling those items they deemed essential and didn’t want to be without.

WHAT HAPPENED WITH

Convenience store retailers and tobacco suppliers alike reported an uptick in tobacco purchasing early in the COVID-19 crisis, with the average c-store tobacco transaction trending much higher than usual, according to several sources. “People stocked up so they wouldn’t have to make a trip back here for a while,” said one convenience store retailer based in the Northeast, speaking to Convenience Store News anonymously. “At the same time that consumers started to hoard out of fear, wholesalers ordered additional product in order to not get caught short-handed later if supply chain disruptions caused issues with their tobacco suppliers.” From the supply side, tobacco manufacturer Swisher International Inc. reported similar results. “As the COVID-19 restrictions took place across the country, we saw an upswing in large cigar shipments to retail,” Victor Cavanaugh, Swisher’s senior manager of category management, told CSNews, noting that during the 11 weeks ended

Convenience store retailers and tobacco suppliers alike reported an uptick in tobacco purchasing early in the COVID-19 crisis, with the average c-store tobacco transaction trending much higher than usual, according to several sources.

May 16, large cigar shipments increased 18 percent industrywide. “Consumers see our products as essential and did not want to run out.” One of the most difficult hurdles the tobacco supplier faced, according to Cavanaugh, was managing its inventory levels, including adjustments to manufacturing and shipping schedules to accommodate its employees. “Also, products had to be reallocated to ensure that we keep as many [retailer] customers in stock as possible,” he said. Another tobacco supplier told CSNews that there were many supply disruptions in the industry because “it was suddenly more difficult and more uncertain to order enough raw material, packaging, flavorings, etc.” Additionally, there needed to be periodic shutdowns for cleaning and sanitizing, and plants also had to rearrange their workplaces and product lines to afford social distancing between workers. So, in the beginning, tobacco shipments to wholesalers rose a lot, and retail tobacco sales also rose as consumers bought more product than normal. Then, trips to convenience stores started falling, basically erasing the extra tobacco sales growth, as consumers relied on the product they had hoarded. March was a great month for c-store tobacco sales, followed by a not-so-great April, basically evening out over those eight weeks, according to retailers who spoke to CSNews.

The Normalizing Phase A Nielsen survey of convenience stores for the four-week period ended May 16 found a 0.2 percent decline in sales volume for traditional cigarettes. This was in contrast to mid-March sales volume, which rose 1.1 percent for the week ended March 22. After about two weeks of consumer stockpiling, manufacturers experienced a 9.3 percent drop-off in sales volume by mid- to late April, and then the volumes began to rise again. “The category continued to normalize following initial pantry loading and destocking, explained Vivian Azer, an industry analyst for Cowen & Co. Goldman Sacks analyst Bonnie Herzog said the slight decline during the most current four-week period in early June suggests “consumption continues to pick up.” In a press release, British American Tobacco (BAT) recently stated that its business is performing well “in a challenging and volatile trading environment.” BAT said it continues to see good pricing and strong volume and value share growth across its combustibles business,

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together with good share growth across all three of its new categories — vapor, tobacco heating, and modern oral. BAT added that results in developed markets are strong with continued good pricing, little evidence of accelerated downtrading and a particularly strong performance from its business in the U.S., “which has been highly resilient throughout the COVID-19 crisis.” Global tobacco supplier Pyxus International, however, is one industry giant that has been hit hard by COVID. The company filed for bankruptcy in mid-June. After years of global tobacco usage decline, the coronavirus pandemic was reportedly the last straw, according to media reports. Pyxus depends on tobacco leaf from more than 300,000 farmers in 30 countries. Under bankruptcy, it deployed a prepackaged option to slash $400 million in debt and give control of the company to junior bondholders. It expects to come out stronger and better able to execute on its long-term strategy.

What’s Ahead? So, what does all this add up to in the nearand long-term for c-store tobacco? In the very short term, Cavanaugh expects that once the restrictions are lifted across the country, a return to normal purchasing habits will take place. He also believes that large cigar shipments will “remain healthy” for the remainder of this year.

The large cigars segment is expected to return to normal growth levels of about 2-3 percent during 2020, according to Cavanaugh, while other segments of the tobacco category are expected to see much higher growth. For instance, the modern oral segment is “one that could see growth upwards of 10 percent in 2020,” he noted. The long-term impact of the coronavirus on global tobacco consumption is “too early to gauge,” business and financial services company Moody’s stated in a report released in mid-June. Moody’s points out that tobacco sales could decline because of reduced damage or because consumers switch to lower-priced products. On the other hand, this could speed up the move to alternative products, accelerating the industry’s transformation. Despite the continued uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Moody’s analysts expect demand for tobacco to remain “fairly stable” at least over the next two years. Some moderate risks include slower conversion of adult smokers to alternative products, and manufacturing and supply chain disruptions. In traditional cigarettes, Moody’s expects sales volume will decline around 5-6 percent in the U.S. However, the financial services company believes mid-single-digit percent price increases will continue and more than offset the volume declines. Moody’s expects alternative products to see continued sales growth despite more regulatory scrutiny. The company’s analysts anticipate that alternative product sales growth will slow this year, but gradually resume into 2021. CSN

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CANDY & SNACKS

Bite-Sized Boosts Consumers are turning to candy and snacks to improve their emotional wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic By Danielle Romano IN TODAY’S CLIMATE, a candy bar or a bag of potato chips is doing more than just satisfying a consumer’s salty or sweet craving. As effects of the coronavirus pandemic spill into the crevices of everyday life, Americans are turning to candy and snacks for comfort and escape.

According to the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) inaugural Sweet Insights: State of Treating 2020 report, the choices consumers are making today around food are no longer just about fuel and physical health benefits, but rather place a greater value on a food’s contribution to their sense of balance and happiness. The report found that nearly nine in 10 people agree that good emotional wellbeing leads to better physical wellbeing, makes it possible to enjoy life more, and increases happiness. And 72 percent say chocolate and candy are an important part of their emotional wellbeing. “That’s the essence of the treat. Be it a bridge to another place and time, a link with loved ones or a momentary escape from the daily stresses and pressures they face, consumers

appreciate chocolate and candy for what they are: honest and authentic moments of enjoyment, with a unique role in maintaining good emotional wellbeing,” said NCA President and CEO John Downs.

Providing Comfort During COVID-19

From an early age, consumers turn to certain foods, including sweet treats and snacks, for emotional comfort. Over the weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hershey Co. has observed increased consumption of sweet and salty/savory snacks across all demographics, as consumers contend with stress, anxiety, frustration and boredom. “We’re seeing increased usage of candy and snacks to enhance several ‘connection’ activities, like family movie night and family game night,” noted Erica Norton, director, global consumer insights, innovation for The Hershey Co. “We’re also seeing an increase in baking, which consumers are embracing for the entertainment value of the activity, as well as the bonding time with loved ones.” Digital convenience retailer goPuff’s Integrated Data & Consumer Research Practice reported that among the most surprising trends surrounding COVID-19 was how quickly consumers shifted from buying pandemic preparation products to buying lifestyle products.

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“Demand for comfort food has spiked since the pandemic started in the U.S., with chips, chocolate and candy all seeing notable rises in sales.” — Daniel Folkman, goPuff “While we did see a spike in cleaning, disinfectant and OTC [over-the-counter] products, we also saw orders for energy drinks, school supplies and popcorn spike quickly as Americans were working, studying and entertaining themselves at home 24/7,” Daniel Folkman, vice president of business for goPuff, told Convenience Store News. GoPuff also saw consumers order items that bring either peace of mind, a sense of comfort, or stability amidst confusion and uncertainty. Among these products were toilet paper, hand sanitizer, baked goods, chocolate, healthy treats, and kombucha. “Demand for comfort food has spiked since the pandemic started in the U.S., with chips, chocolate and candy all seeing notable rises in sales. Some brands outpaced category growth, showing that a preference for brands was still a driver for what they purchased,” Folkman noted. “That said, we’ve also seen an increase in orders for healthy snacks during the pandemic. Orders for healthy snacks were up 48 percent from March to April of this year.”

intelligence agency that specializes in consumer, category, packaging and product insight analyses. Based on a recent FMCG Gurus survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers, the market intelligence firm identified three key areas of impact: 1. The Experience As the coronavirus creates a scenario whereby consumers are simultaneously concerned about their health and their ability to handle everyday living costs, they will desire moments of nonessential indulgence for escapism reasons. This will be driven by increased feelings of anxiety and stress. “As consumers trade down on foodservice occasions such as trips to restaurants and bars, they’ll be looking to replicate consumption experiences in the comfort of their own home,” Hughes explained. “This will drive demand for bulk and shareable products, as well as indulgent and premium products.” According to the survey, 51 percent of consumers say they will trade up on confectionery to compensate for reduced expenditure elsewhere, and 52 percent say they will seek confectionery products suitable for “big nights in.” Additionally, in the last month, 79 percent said they purchased more comfort food such as ice

A New Normal?

Now more than ever, consumers are facing uncertainty about everyday life, such as the state of the economy and long-term job security; food safety and the origin of products; the adverse effects of COVID-19 restrictions on physical and mental health; and concerns about contracting the virus, as well as the safety of their loved ones. This is something convenience store retailers need to understand and respond to — be it by offering traditional flavors that remind people of simpler times, or offering experimental flavors that encourage affordable moments of indulgence. “I think it’s fair to say that events of the last couple of months have hit the industry hard and forced a lot of companies to reevaluate their strategies,” said Mike Hughes, director of insights for FMCG Gurus, a global market J U LY

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CANDY & SNACKS

Consumers will turn to nostalgic products that remind them of the past and simpler times, driving a demand for traditional flavors that offer moments of comfort. cream and confectionery. Forty percent said they purchased more chocolate as a result of COVID-19, while 28 percent said they purchased more sugar confectionery. 2. Back to Basics & Risk Avoidance Consumers will turn to nostalgic products that remind them of the past and simpler times, driving a demand for traditional flavors that offer moments of comfort.

Sixty percent of survey respondents say they will be more likely to seek out confectionery products they know and trust, and 41 percent say they will be more likely to seek out confectionery products that remind them of the past. According to FMCG Gurus’ findings, consumers today are also demonstrating ethnocentric attitudes with favorable perceptions of homegrown brands that practice values and policies that closely align with their views. Fifty-eight percent of consumers say they will be more conscious about purchasing new types of confectionery. “Consumers will be more price-sensitive when it comes to confectionery or looking to trade down. However, they will be more risk-adverse, seeking out products that they know and trust and that offer comfort,” Hughes noted. 3. Maximized & Defined Value Consumers are willing to shop multiple places to get what they want. As a result of the stay-at-home orders, they are already utilizing multiple channels and showing less value to brand loyalty at this time. However, they aren’t searching for the cheapest price possible; instead, they are focusing on retailers and products that offer the maximum value and meet their need states, according to Hughes. CSN

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TECHNOLOGY

Leveling Up Loyalty C-store retailers continue to improve and build upon their loyalty programs, making them easier to use and more personalized By Tammy Mastroberte RETAILERS IN ALL CHANNELS are stepping up their loyalty programs — whether it’s a refresh or a total overhaul — with the goal of keeping up with the needs of today’s consumers, which include personalization, ease of use, and value. Even leaders in loyalty, such as Starbucks, have been changing things up, with their programs now entirely app-based. They’re also adding a wider range of redemption options, and points earned no longer expire.

“Consumers want a loyalty program that gives them value, and they want it to be as simple as possible and not confusing,” Chris Hartman, director of fuels, forecourt and advertising for Rutter’s convenience stores, based in York, Pa., told Convenience Store News. The 78-store chain recently launched a new custom app with Paytronix with a range of new features. The initial challenge for all loyalty programs is getting consumers to sign up and download the app, if there is one. Once they do, the next hurdle is keeping them engaged and coming back to the store for more. When this is done successfully, loyalty customers have been shown to spend more than non-loyalty customers, according to the 2019 C-Store Shopper Report by PDI. Specifically, they spend an average of 29 percent more per visit. “A good loyalty program has stickiness, so a consumer won’t want to leave you because someone else has a better discount down the road, and it’s important for each retailer

Kwik Chek relaunched its mobile app in May 2020. Among the changes, customers can now use their points in-store, as well as at the pump.

to find what that is for them,” explained Kevin Smartt, CEO of Kwik Chek, based in Bonham, Texas, and operating 47 convenience stores. The chain recently relaunched its loyalty app with a streamlined signup process and other enhancements. One of the biggest changes that most retailers, including c-store operators, are making to their loyalty programs is adding personalization. This not only benefits the customer by offering them discounts and information on personally relevant items, but it also can increase the bottom line for the retailer by driving more store visits and purchases. “Personalization is very important to today’s consumers,” said Steven Root, senior manager of loyalty for Pilot Co., based in Knoxville, Tenn., and operating more than 900 retail and fueling locations. “It’s important to know what guests like and tailor offerings to them. A loyalty program should be more than exclusive deals and promotions. It needs to help people in their day-to-day journey — especially today with the need for critical utility features such as touchless checkout, mobile fueling and curbside pickup that have become even more important.”

It’s All About the App

Whether launching brand-new programs or revamping old ones, c-store retailers are turning to apps to manage loyalty today. In some cases, they’re moving to a mobile-first strategy. In May 2020, Kwik Chek relaunched its app, allowing customers to sign up and manage their kwikcard rewards all from within the app. “Initially, our app didn’t allow customers to sign up for the program in the app itself and we thought it was cumbersome,” Smartt explained. “The well-done apps from other major retailers outside the industry had the experience reside in the app, which makes a seamless experience. Now, new [Kwik Chek] customers can download the app, become a loyalty member and sign up for the payment card all inside the app.” Friendly Express Inc., a c-store chain based in Waycross, Ga., debuted a new loyalty program integrated with private label debit on the ZipLine platform. While cards are still available, its mobile app allows customers to sign up and monitor their rewards. Prior to this, the company worked with GasBuddy, which allowed customers to view their locations (each of its 34 stores had its own page), but the new app is entirely loyalty-based for all stores. J U LY

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TECHNOLOGY

“We listened to our customers and took the barriers down, so consumers can use their points outside at the pump to roll back the price or inside the store to lower their transaction amount,” Smartt explained. “We also added a lot of our freshly prepared food items to the loyalty program, so customers could also earn points when purchasing food and not just packaged items.” Kwik Chek is planning to add mobile food ordering to its app before the end of the year, and is working with P97 Networks to create an additional platform within the app. P97 and Zipline will power mobile payment from within the app as well. Customers will be able to activate the pumps and pay from inside their car. Kwik Chek is also working with Koupon Media to offer coupons to loyalty members for both consumer packaged goods and proprietary products.

Friendly Express recently debuted a new loyalty program that offers three levels of rewards based on spending.

“It has the customer’s name, shows their lifetime savings in the upper right corner, features offers tabs, and they can view the rewards they have accumulated for their beverage club,” said Natalie Walker, loyalty administrator for Friendly Express. Rutter's also worked with GasBuddy on its initial app. When the company decided to close down that platform, Rutter’s chose Paytronix and created a custom app to fully integrate its rewards program. The new app debuted in March. Now, customers who download the app and sign in get a one-time bonus of 10 cents off per gallon of fuel. Within the app, they can view available fuel rewards, monthly promotions, and special VIP only offers.

Enhancing the Value

In addition to upgrading their apps, c-store chains are adding new features and services to them, and changing their programs so they are easier to use and bring more value to customers. “A loyalty app and program has to be really simple to understand and to engage with,” said Brent Harms, CEO at Techmark, based in Minneapolis and specializing in small to medium c-store chain loyalty programs. “There should be ease on the end of the customer.” At Kwik Chek, its initial loyalty program only allowed members to use their points at the pump when they bought fuel, but feedback showed customers wanted the ability to use them inside the store as well. This is one of the major changes the company recently made.

“[Koupon Media] has pre-arranged coupons with national manufacturers, but they also help us create our own customer coupons for food or other proprietary items,” Smartt noted. “It has been a central piece of the mobile app because once you click on the coupon, it activates and a clock starts ticking until it expires.” In addition to adding mobile ordering, Kwik Chek is offering Skip Frictionless Checkout at several of its locations, which allows customers to check out with their mobile phone and skip the line in-store. The chain would like to embed this into its app, and when mobile ordering rolls out, the retailer wants to offer curbside pickup, too, said Smartt. Another c-store retailer adding more value to its loyalty program is Friendly Express. Its prior loyalty program was points based, and the points could be redeemed for fuel or items in-store. Recently, the chain revamped the program and introduced “Surprise and Delight Rewards.” It offers three levels based on spending, and customers can choose to redeem offers at the first tier or wait until they reach a higher one, according to Walker. “The tiers are $25, $50 and $75. For the $25 spend, they can choose a discount on fuel or a free item in-store. Once the customer accepts the reward, they have 30 days to spend it,” she said. Similar to Kwik Chek, mobile ordering is up next for Friendly Express, which already started online ordering at one store, and is hoping to add the mobile piece via ZipLine in the near future. The same is true for Rutter’s. The retailer is also looking into how it can offer mobile ordering and make it frictionless, Hartman shared. The chain added geofencing to its upgraded app to target customers individually and direct-message them through the app. “We can group customers into certain baskets, like tobacco users or people who purchase food,” he explained. “There are a lot of ways to use the data we have to target offers that benefit individuals with items they would want to see.”

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As an incentive to get new customers to join the program and download the app, Rutter’s gives 10 cents off per gallon of fuel for the first fill-up. After that, members get three cents off per gallon at the start of the program and can earn more cents off depending on their purchases. “Based on research we have done, fuel rewards are the No. 1 thing customers are looking for from c-stores — more than discounts on anything else — although we do offer them discounts in-store as well,” Hartman said. Tailoring rewards is something Pilot Co. is doing as well. In April 2020, it launched a new promotion called Push4Points within its loyalty program, utilizing the Pilot Flying J mobile app. The promotion is designed to thank professional drivers by awarding them more points on diesel fuel purchases. These points can be used to save money on items in the store, including food and beverages, as well as on showers and reserved parking. The promotion runs through Sept. 30. “With Push4Points, professional drivers activate the program in the app at the start of each month and with each qualifying fill of 75-plus diesel gallons, [they] earn an additional half-point, up to

four points per gallon,” Root said. “Essentially, in just six qualifying fills for the month, a driver will earn four points per gallon for the remainder of that month.” In the future, c-store retailers foresee their loyalty programs continuing to evolve and grow to meet customers’ needs. They are constantly evaluating their programs, considering customer feedback, and adapting to the changing times. Many test different offers and options to see what works and what doesn’t, so they can make decisions for the future, according to Hartman.

Rutter's reviews the success of its offers on a monthly basis, and closely monitors customer feedback through its app and website.

“On a monthly basis, we look at what is successful and what is not successful in terms of offers, and we look at what competitors are doing or other industry leaders to see what might make sense for us as well,” he shared. “We also look at customer feedback through the app and website, and they are generally very vocal about what they want. Right now, there are a lot of suggestions on making frictionless easier, so we are in the process of doing that.” CSN

Loyalty Options for Small Operators While a robust loyalty program, and the technology that goes along with it, might seem like something only available to large chains in the convenience store space, there are several options available to small operators and even single-store owners.

that is fully branded and allows them to have their name on it — which is often the choice of people with five or more locations — or our shared app that allows an individual owner to have a branded app with their name.”

Techmark, based in Minneapolis, specializes in c-store loyalty programs for small to medium chains. The company works with a number of retailers, including Selex LLC, which operates three Illinois stores and offers the Wally Rewards program. Customers simply text to enroll in the program, and then receive instructions to download the mobile app.

The second option offers the text-to-enroll feature, where customers are directed to Techmark’s rewards app and the retailer’s loyalty program is configured within that.

“Some customers love to use an app and others don’t, so our platform allows a retailer to deliver communication via an app, text or email,” explained Techmark CEO Brent Harms. “The retailers own all the data and can choose between a white-label app

“Loyalty has evolved a lot in the c-store space. Small and medium chains didn’t have a lot of options to deliver the type of programs larger companies could, [so] we want to give them an affordable option to do that,” Harms said. “They can deliver the same functionality as the bigger chains and, in some ways, they can do a better job because they can customize down to specific products in their store.” JA 9 J U L YN 22 00 21 0

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NEW HORIZONS

Elevating the Latina Experience in Corporate America A new research study from NEW reveals the challenges Latina women face, and how companies can serve them better

By Sarah Alter, President & CEO, Network of Executive Women

WHEN NEW PUBLISHED Advancing All Women, our initial study regarding the status of women of color in the American workplace, we found that without intervention, the number of women of color in senior positions would drop over the next 10 years without intervention. We knew that to continue our mission of Advancing All Women, a stronger base of research was needed into the unique experiences of women of color.

I am proud to say that the first study in that series of deeper dives is now available. A Foot in Two Worlds: Elevating the Latina Experience discusses the biases Latina women face, how they might be counteracted, and solutions for corporate business to better take advantage of their unique skills and abilities. Though the Latina community spans many cultures and languages, we found common ground in how they are perceived by their non-Latinx coworkers, as well as how they want to shape their experience going forward.

Latinas in the Workplace

Among our findings was an interesting cultural clash between the cultural values

of Latinas and the stock values of corporate America. We found that Latinas are often raised with collectivist cultural values, where the good of the group is valued over the success of the individual. This can sometimes result in a reluctance to self-promote, and a focus on achieving the best product possible without worrying about personal gain. Study participants noted that this sometimes led to managers perceiving their Latina employees as unambitious or unassertive. The needed correction here is clear — their managers must learn to appreciate the powerful potential of these altruistic values, and not overlook these fully qualified women because they do not conform to the displays of “hunger” for promotion that their primarily white and male superiors expect.

Being Yourself at Work

The Latina women we interviewed cited a number of common experiences. One major takeaway was feeling as if they were being told, “Be yourself at work, as long as it conforms to our mainstream culture.” The attributes that set them apart from their white male counterparts were usually the ones pinpointed as areas for change. Bias was also a major issue cited by our study participants. They described being discriminated against at work simply for having an accent, despite 80 percent saying they speak English “well” or “very well.” They also discussed “code-switching,” not just in language, but also “from fashion and expressiveness to facial expressions and physical proximity.” Latina women earn 54 cents on the dollar compared to men, and while this discrepancy can be attributed to a number of other factors, it cannot be denied that these biases clearly have consequences.

We Can Change

Despite sometimes difficult environments, our study found that Latina women also see clear paths to improving workplaces, so their unique background and cultural values are an asset to their careers and to their companies. 78 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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Participants cited a lack of mentors and sponsors for them to work with, and an almost complete lack of sponsors from the same cultural background. By creating greater diversity in the C-suite, corporations can pave the way for greater inclusivity from the ground up. This research study lays out concrete strategies for corporations to better support their Latina employees, and to strengthen themselves in the process. The good news? You can read the study in its entirety on the NEW website, completely free. Our study has the potential to guide the future of Latinas in the workplace if businesses take these findings to heart. By not including Latinas fully in corporate life — by letting bias and preconceptions of a broad and varied culture cloud their vision — employers are missing out on the unique contributions Latinas bring to the table. With high emotional IQs and collectivist values, they can be managers and executives with empathy. To serve women of color, corporate environments must be open to women of color. Can any business expect to meet revenue targets for their Latinx audiences without Latinas in the C-suite? Their buying power is on the rise, expected to reach $1.7 trillion by 2020, and they are looking for products and services that reflect their experiences.

Convenience Store News is pleased to continue this series of educational columns by the Network of Executive Women (NEW), coinciding with the annual CSNews Top Women in Convenience awards given out each fall. Fifty-three female managers, executives and directors who work in the convenience store industry will be honored in our 2020 program. In addition to being a presentation sponsor for the Top Women in Convenience program, NEW and CSNews have partnered to develop this series of columns directed at helping corporate leaders drive more inclusive company cultures. 2020 SPONSORS Founding & Presenting Sponsor:

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If high-potential Latina employees grow disgusted with their environment, rightly so, and start their own businesses, the cost of not including them in corporate life will grow even more dramatic. Diversity and inclusion isn’t just a buzzy phrase. It’s just good business — and it’s the right thing to do. CSN Sarah Alter is president and CEO of the Network of Executive Women, a learning and leadership community representing 12,400 members in 22 regional groups in the United States and Canada. Learn more at newonline.org.

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Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.

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STORE SPOTLIGHT

Fulfilling the Needs of a Food Desert

The inaugural Allsup’s Market is equal parts convenience store and supermarket By Danielle Romano

At a Glance Allsup’s Market Location: 200 E. Denby Ave., Melrose, N.M. Size: 4,200 square feet Special features: More than 1,000 grocery SKUs, in addition to an extensive fresh meat section, and greatly expanded frozen food and fresh produce sections; a fresh hotfood platform offering a robust menu; 24-hour self-service gasoline; outdoor seating

OVER THE LAST few years, as grocery stores have closed their doors in many small towns, residents have been forced to travel 20 miles or more to shop the closest supermarket — many of which operate at reduced hours. At the same time, there has been a pronounced increase in the number of discount stores like Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Family Dollar in small, rural communities, although they do not sell traditional grocery items.

Enter Allsup’s Market. Equal parts convenience store and supermarket, this first-of-its-kind concept in Melrose, N.M., combines history with innovation to fill the void. For years, Melrose residents have had to travel approximately 30 miles to get to the nearest grocery store. “We created Allsup’s Market to meet the nutritional needs of our customers by offering fresh fruits and vegetables, assorted high-quality meats, whole grains, and an expanded selection of grocery items,” said Mark Allsup, president of Allsup’s Convenience Stores. “Melrose, like many rural communities, is what is known as a ‘food desert,’ which is a town that does not have access to more traditional grocery stores.” Although the brainchild of Mark Allsup, the original concept for Allsup’s Market

actually dates back to 1956 when his parents, Lonnie and Barbara, opened their first convenience store in Roswell, N.M. They understood the critical role c-stores play in smaller, rural communities. “They designed the first Allsup’s stores to be an oasis in these small towns, where Allsup’s became the first local source of prepared foods and basic groceries,” he explained. “Our aim with Allsup’s Market is to become our customers’ community store of choice for not only convenience items and fuel, but for fresh groceries, fresh meat and quality food as well.”

Defined Offers

Located at 200 E. Denby Ave. — not far from the retailer’s corporate headquarters

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in Clovis, N.M., and close to a military base — the 4,200-square-foot inaugural Allsup’s Market opened its doors to the community on Jan. 19. The store’s interior is demonstrably different from a typical Allsup’s store, with new brand aesthetics that clearly define and support the addition of the expanded, nutritious, fresh grocery offer. Upon walking in: • The left side of the store features 6-foot-tall grocery shelving and more than 1,000 grocery SKUs, in addition to an extensive fresh meat section, and greatly expanded frozen food and fresh produce sections. Customers can find staples such as butter, eggs and Allsup’s branded milk in the fresh produce section. • The right side of the store incorporates lower shelving, which is stocked with traditional c-store fare, such as snacks, candy, and health and beauty items. • The center of the store houses the checkout counter, along with the staging and execution for Allsup’s world-famous burrito and other freshly prepared foodservice items.

On one side of the store, 6-foot-tall shelving holds more than 1,000 grocery SKUs. Customers can also shop fresh meat and fresh produce sections.

The fresh hot-food platform at Allsup’s Market is identical to that of the chain’s other stores. It is comprised of burritos, chimichangas, deep-fried pizza, and other signature items. In addition, a fresh cold case holds grab-and-go sandwiches, salads and wraps.

Xbox One X, an iPad Mini, a barbecue grill, a GoPro Hero4 Silver Camera, and milk for a year (52 gallons). • A meet-and-greet with the 1974 NFL No. 1 draft pick, three-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and Dallas Cowboys legend Ed “Too Tall” Jones, who signed autographs Jan. 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

• The first 250 people in line who entered the store received a dozen Allsup’s eggs for free. • A 49-cent deal on a 32-ounce Tallsup or any size Allsup’s coffee. • Buy one, get one free on Allsup’s beef and bean burritos or chimichangas.  • Free lunch for customers who visited the Pepsi trailer on Jan. 24-25 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where S Bar Hot Dogs, Pepsi, Frito-Lay chips and samples of Allsup’s Market Rib Eye Bites were offered.  • The Great Grocery Giveaway, where the retailer gave away free groceries every hour beginning 9 a.m. Jan. 24-25. Winners received an Allsup’s ice chest full of branded items, such as tostados, taco sauce, beef jerky, ice cream, muffins and more. • Prize giveaways, including a Samsung 65" TV and Samsung Sound Bar, an

Based on the evaluation process, the company has laid out plans to: complete 42 raze-and-rebuilds or major remodels of existing Allsup’s and Yesway stores and truck stops; convert several Yesway stores in Texas and New Mexico to the Allsup’s brand; make select upgrades to 52 existing Allsup’s stores; roll out the Allsup’s foodservice platform to existing Yesway stores; and expand the Allsup’s Market concept in other food desert communities.

Future Growth

The Allsup’s chain was acquired by Des Moines, Iowa-based Yesway Outdoors, amenities found at Allsup’s in November 2019, bringing the company’s total number of stores to Market include 24-hour self-service 414 across nine states. The majority of the stores are in smaller, rural gasoline, with three bays dedicated to communities and some suburban markets. high-speed diesel fuel; and outdoor seating. Since the acquisition, Yesway has been actively involved in integrating the The concept store celebrated its grand two chains from technological, operational, merchandising and marketing opening with a weeklong celebration from perspectives while, at the same time, evaluating all the stores to identify Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. The festivities included: prime candidates for improvements or concept changes.

Additionally, Allsup’s plans to roll out a new loyalty program and mobile app later this year. “We are currently evaluating the efficacy of the concept and looking to make improvements based on the things we are learning, with the goal to expand to other food desert locations over the next several years. We also operate two Yesway Marketplace stores in South Dakota that cater to grocery and convenience shoppers,” CEO and Chairman Thomas Nicholas Trkla told Convenience Store News. “We have identified numerous other locations and communities in our portfolio that we believe would benefit greatly from an Allsup’s Market store. We have great things planned for Yesway and Allsup’s in the coming years, and the Allsup’s Market is just one of several ideas you should expect to see in the near future.” CSN J U LY

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HOT PRODUCTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION

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TERRY KANGANIS

201.855.7615

ADINDEX ADD Systems..............................65

JUUL Labs....................................26-27

Altria Group Distribution........2, 3

Liggett Vector Brands.............49

Anchor Packaging....................31

Living Essentials LLC...............47

BIC USA Inc.................................39

Premier Manufacturing...........37

Calico Brands..............................15

Reynolds American

Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A................................16, 17

Trade Marketing Services.......45 Saputo Cheese USA Inc..........57

Dot’s Homestyle Pretzel.........53 Forte Products...........................38 GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Health Care..................................5, 7, 9, 11

Swedish Match North America LLC...................23, 33, 100 Swisher International Inc........25, 57 The Hershey Company............99

ITG Brands...................................41 United Sign Co...........................Outsert JTM Foods...................................35 Universal Merchants.................Outsert

8550 W. Bryn Mawr Ave, Suite 200, Chicago, IL 60631 Phone 773-992-4450 Fax 773-992-4455 www.ensembleiq.com

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7/6/2020 1:08:11 PM


34th ANNUAL

SAVE THE DATE! 11.04.2020 | Savannah, Georgia

ANNOUNCING... From the most established brand in the convenience store retailer space comes one of the highest honors in the industry: the Convenience Store News Hall of Fame. This is a must-attend gala event with some of the most admired retailers and suppliers in the c-store industry in attendance, honoring some of the industry’s most influential retailer and supplier executives.

4 REASONS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CSNEWS HALL OF FAME EVENT: • • • •

Strengthen and develop industry relationships Be known as a leader in the industry Gain visibility for your brand and products Reach retail and supplier executives and key decision-makers

Hall of Fame is an intimate awards gala reception, dinner and award ceremony celebrating the induction of outstanding men and women who have exhibited exceptional leadership and provided significant contributions to the convenience store industry.

2020 HONOREES

RETAILER HALL OF FAMER

SUPPLIER HALL OF FAMER

Greg Parker

Dave Onorato

Founder and CEO, Parker’s

Vice President, General Manager, Small Format Stores, The Hershey Co.

RETAILER EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

Darren Rebelez President and Chief Executive Officer, Casey’s General Stores

For more information please contact Paula Lashinsky, VP/Publisher, plashinsky@ensembleiq.com

0720 CSN20_HallofFame_HouseAd_0420.indd Ad Pages.indd 97 1

AND FEATURING OUR EXCLUSIVE

Join us as we help nurture and celebrate the exceptional leaders of tomorrow in the convenience store industry. The Convenience Store News Future Leaders in Convenience program celebrates and develops the next generation of convenience retail leaders by providing a forum for talented young business people to hone their leadership talent while recognizing the achievements of an emerging leaders under the age of 35 at the time of nomination. The CSNews Future Leaders in Convenience program provides a comprehensive workshop and networking program that teaches young convenience store managers and executives how to achieve their full potential as leaders in their organizations and the industry at large.

7/6/20 5/4/20 7:17 2:25AM PM


INSIDE THE CONSUMER MIND

Fare Expectations C-store foodservice shoppers don’t want to have to sacrifice quality for price As more convenience stores elevate their foodservice offerings, consumers are setting their expectations higher. They want highquality, good-tasting and fresh foodservice options — but at a value, according to the 2020 Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle Study, which surveyed 1,500-plus consumers who shop a c-store at least once a month. Other key foodservice-category findings from the study include:

Most Important Factors When Purchasing Prepared Foods at C-stores Food quality Price/value Taste Freshness Convenience/on-the-go Sanitation Location Speed of service Customer service Menu choices Portion size Selection of brands available Presentation Availability of healthier options Drive-thru available

15% 11% 10% 10% 7% 5%

23% 20% 20% 19%

27%

37% 34%

45% 45%

Food quality and price tie as the most important factor when buying c-store prepared foods.

Foodservice Items Purchased in the Past Month

35% Fountain/

dispensed drink

32% Hot beverage

30%

Base: 1,213 U.S. shoppers aged 18+ who purchased prepared food from a c-store in the past month

Grab-and-go prepared food

Top 10 Most-Purchased Types of Prepared Food

1

2

3

4

5

Pizza

Hot dog

Deli/ sandwiches

Hamburger

Hot snacks (other than French fries)

6

7

8

9

10

Chicken

Breakfast sandwich

Fresh baked goods (i.e., doughnuts, cookies)

French fries

Other breakfast foods (i.e., muffins, bagels)

26%

Made-to-order prepared food

25%

Frozen drink

Base: 1,509 U.S. shoppers aged 18+ who shop convenience stores at least once a month

Beverages slightly eek out prepared foods as the most-purchased foodservice items.

71%

17%

Branded fast food

of shoppers say they were satisfied with their last prepared food purchase from a convenience store — an increase of five points from 2019. Only 4% were not satisfied.

98 Convenience Store News C S N E W S . c o m

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7/8/20 11:27 AM


Founded in 1909, the

Milton Hershey School prepares kids in need for

success in life.

Bringing Goodness

to the world -SINCE 1894-

heartwarming the world. 0720 Ad Pages.indd 51

Sold in

7/6/20 7:15 AM


W O N

E L B A L I A V A

ACTUAL SIZE

MI NI

CIGARILLOS

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SIZE M AT TERS FO R M O R E I N FO R M AT I O N CO N TAC T YO U R S W E D I S H M ATC H R E PR ES E N TAT I V E 8 0 0 - 3 6 7- 3 6 7 7 • C U S T O M E R . S E R V I C E @ S M N A . C O M © 2 019 S M C I H O L D I N G , I N C .

7/6/20 7:19 AM


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