Octane-CSNC March 2024

Page 1

OCTANE CANADA’S CAR WASH & PETROLEUM MAGAZINE MARCH / APRIL 2024 CCentral.ca @CSNC_Octane PM42940023 $12.00 Shifting routines and priorities changing consumer habits at the forecourt Forecourt & EV Report + • Fuel management strategies • The uneven road to zero emissions March 5 & 6, 2024 Toronto The International Centre BROUGHT TO YOU BY IT’S TIME FOR YOUR ANNUAL RENEWAL Scan the QR code to confirm your subscription C-STORE iQ

Brands You Know. Service You Trust.



Sandra Parente



Michelle Warren mwarren@ensembleiq.com


Tom Venetis tvenetis@ensembleiq.com


Julia Sokolova

(647) 407-8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com


Holly Power

416-910-1085 hpower@ensembleiq.com


Juan Chacon jchacon@ensembleiq.com


Nancy Peterman npeterman@ensembleiq.com


Jackie Shipley jshipley@ensembleiq.com


Michael Kimpton mkimpton@ensembleiq.com


Jakob Wodnicki jwodnicki@ensembleiq.com








Subscription Questions contactus@ccentral.ca

Subscriptions: Print $78.00 per year, 2 year $144.00, Digital $45.00 per year, 2 year $84.00, Outside Canada $120.00 per year, Single copy $14.40, Groups $55.20, Outside Canada Single copy $19.20.

Email: csnc@ccentral.ca

Phone: 1-877-687-7321, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST weekdays

Fax: 1-888-520-3608 | Online: www.ccentral.ca/subscribe

Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is published 6 times a year by Ensembleiq. Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is circulated to managers, buyers and professionals working in Canada’s convenience, gas and wash channel. Please direct inquiries to the editorial offices. Contributions of articles, photographs and industry information are welcome, but cannot be acknowledged or returned. ©2024 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including photocopying and electronic retrieval/retransmission, without the permission of the publisher. Printed in Canada by Transcontinental Printing | PM42940023



The uneven

to zero emissions: For starters, there aren’t enough high-speed charging stations to meet future demand



Today’s innovative technologies make fuel management easier and more accurate, helping drive profits at the pump and



OCTANE March | April 2024 3 CONTENTS MARCH | APRIL 2024 VOLUME 29 | NUMBER 2 STAY CURRENT Don’t miss our e-newsletter! Car wash, petroleum, and convenience news & insights, delivered weekly. Sign up today at www.CCentral.ca/signup Simply hover your phone’s camera over this code: CCENTRAL.CA E-NEWSLETTER CSNCOCTANE @CSNC_OCTANE standard no gradients watermark stacked logo (for sharing only) CONVENIENCESTORENEWSCANADA BE A PART OF OUR COMMUNITY!
The Road Ahead
a grip:
2024 C-store IQ National Shopper study Forecourt & EV Report: A shift in routine
The Convenience U CARWACS Show
ready to supercharge your business: Show preview and more! 20 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 1800, Toronto, ON M4R 1K8
256-9908 | (877) 687-7321 | Fax (888) 889-9522 www.CCentral.ca
(416) 271-4706 sparente@ensembleiq.com
share tips for fuel management success BROUGHT TO YOU BY 11
6 Experts
Equipment built to last. Tommy Car Wash Systems® offers equipment, systems, detergents, and technology that can take your car wash to the next level. With over 50 years of industry experience, put your trust in us for all of your car wash needs!
more! ©2024 Tommy Car Wash Systems, LLC 373N1 2/24 Scan to view our offerings. Booth #244 at Convenience U CARWACS sales@tommycarwash.com (616) 494-0411 Equipment built to last. Tommy Car Wash Systems® offers equipment, systems, detergents, and technology that can take your car wash to the next level. With over 50 years of industry experience, put your trust in us for all of your car wash needs!
more! ©2024 Tommy Car Wash Systems, LLC 373N1 2/24 Scan to view our offerings. Booth #244 at Convenience U CARWACS sales@tommycarwash.com (616) 494-0411


The uneven road to zero emissions

For starters, there aren’t enough high-speed charging stations to meet future demand

On December 20, 2023, the Canadian federal government released its long-awaited final draft of the zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) regulations. While there wasn’t much in the regulations that could be considered a surprise, it was an important development because it signalled a definitive direction for the federal Liberals.

The regulations form a sales mandate that effectively requires manufacturers to increase the availability of ZEVs to Canadians or face penalties. For the record, this is one of the most challenging times in the history of the automotive industry. The transition to electrification has required immense investment; it’s also been made more difficult by the supply chain issues that occurred in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These and other factors have conspired to create turmoil in the industry, forced new car prices for both EVs and more traditional vehicles to reach eye-watering levels, and caused knock-on effects all over the place, including upheaval to rental car fleets and wild fluctuation in used car prices.

Essentially, what we have in North America is increasing government interest in EVs, reduced interest from consumers due to high sticker prices and higher interest rates, and general confusion from carmakers as they consider how to best maintain profit margins. The only thing missing from this combustible mixture is the threat of lower-priced Chinese EVs being allowed to enter the market free of all encumbrances. This is the main issue impacting Elon Musk’s sleep these days, as he struggles to keep Tesla in the green while firing off angry Xs to whomever might be inclined to listen.

Now, to be sure, automakers don’t really deserve our collective pity on this issue. They’re in the business of selling cars at a profit. They would ultimately be happy if everyone replaced his or her fossil fuel pow-

ered vehicle with something shiny, new and electrified. But this is definitely a transition period, and all signs are it’s going to be a rocky one for years to come.

“Look at the situation through the lens of what’s driving the costs; it’s a huge cost to convert entire factories over to electrification—you’re developing a whole new ecosystem,” says David Adams, president and CEO of Global Automakers of Canada (GAC), a not-for-profit that represents 21 different manufacturers operating in this country. “EVs are only about 3% of vehicles on the road today. It’s a new technology with a battery that’s responsible for thirty percent of the cost of the vehicle. Scale of production is the only way to lower the cost, aligned with the cost of the battery.”

‘If the government really wants consumers to adopt zero emissions vehicles in a big way, there would be charging stations exactly where gas stations are today’

While the GAC recognized that the inclusion of certain plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) in the revised ZEV mandate was somewhat positive, Adams isn’t sure the government listened to all their concerns. That carve out for PHEVs, for example, covers only those vehicles that can travel on electric propulsion alone for 80 kilometres or more. As of right now, the only vehicles that make the grade are a handful of bigticket models such as the Land Rover Range Rover Sport.

“We’ve been supportive of the federal government and other governments putting in rebates,” Adams says, “But the gap is still about $14,000 between a comparable EV and ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle. We don’t see price parity happening until beyond 2035 for all segments, apart from compact vehicles.”

While the affordability of EVs seems like a manufacturer issue, things aren’t quite that simple. The Ford F-150 Lightning, easily one of the best EV pickup trucks on the market, is a victim of its own success. Ford Motor Company estimates that it loses between $34,000 and $36,000 (all figures in USD) on every Lightning sold. It’s a rough business to be in.

The GAC also pinpoints the lack of charging infrastructure as another key reason why an aggressive EV mandate is premature. “If the government really wants consumers to adopt zero emissions vehicles in a big way, there would be charging stations exactly where gas stations are today,” says Adams. “The assumption is that most charging would be at home, but 40% of the population doesn’t live in a single-family home.”

It’s clear that there aren’t enough highspeed charging stations to meet future demand. But this is another area where companies operating in a free enterprise are asking for government assistance. It’s kind of like the richest man in the world asking for tariffs on Chinese EVs.

Regardless of the charging infrastructure or the cost of building electrified vehicles, it’s nevertheless up to manufacturers to meet the Electric Vehicle Availability Standard—or risk penalties and fines. The standard targets at least 20% of new vehicle sales by EVs/PHEVs by the year 2026, 60% by the year 2030 and 100% by 2035.

Manufacturers that fail to meet these targets will be in a credit deficit, a situation that must be remedied within three years. If they can’t comply within the time allotted, they will then face government fines. The race is well and truly on. OCTANE

Mark Hacking is an award-winning editor/writer with an affinity for all things automotive. He contributes to leading publications in Canada, Australia, Switzerland and the U.S.

OCTANE March | April 2024 5


Today’s innovative technologies make fuel management easier and more accurate, helping drive profits at the pump and in-store

There are 11,893 retail gasoline stations operating in Canada, according to the 2022 National Retail Petroleum Site Census published by Kalibrate Canada Inc. in June 2023. A recent study from IBIS World finds that among that number of gasoline stations, there are 5,442 gas stations with c-store businesses as of 2023, with Ontario (3,414), Quebec (2,038) and British Columbia (1,520) having the most number of gas stations with c-stores.

So, it should not come as a surprise to most that fuel sales and fuel management are an important part of those operations that sell gasoline and have a c-store component. Now, most may think that fuel management is a simple affair. You make sure you have fuel in your tanks for customers, pumps to dispense the fuel and a way for a customer to pay for that fuel, either at the pump or in the c-store.

The reality is, in fact, more complex, and knowing the various parts of fuel management and how to effectively manage them will add more profits each time someone pumps at your operations.

What is fuel management?

Brent Hamby, senior director of product management with Invenco by GVR, says that at its most basic level, fuel management is “anything that encompasses the ability to procure and to sell fuel to the

CCentral.ca 6 March | April 2024 OCTANE SHUTTERSTOCK

customer.” That includes everything from the tanks, lines and sensors that monitor the fuel in the tanks, to the pumps and payment systems the customer uses, as well as the systems that allow one to monitor and to reconcile fuel sales, payments, taxes and the ordering and delivery of fuel to the operation in a timely manner.

By working together, all those systems can help a gas station operator keep a closer eye on their fuel usage, reduce costs and aid in profitability.

Rob Hoffman, director, government and stakeholder relations with Canadian Fuels Association, says good fuel management begins with inventory management, which is knowing how much fuel is going into and out of your storage tanks. “The key thing for that is the integrity of your storage system,” he continues. “It has to be whole and complete, meaning you want to guard against such things as leaks that can create, over time, huge headaches and challenges for the fuel retailer.”

This is where it is important to have in place accurate fuel measurement systems to help guard against what in the industry calls ‘fuel shrinkage’—when the amount in the tank doesn’t match what’s supposed to be there.

Scott Negley, senior director, product management at Dover Fuel-

Above, the DFS AX12 supports a 12-inch touchscreen display, which allows for promo and ads

Left, Dover Fueling Solutions' ProGauge 3D Laser Scan Automatic Tank Calibration uses stateof-the-art technology to accurately determine the exact volume of liquid in fuel tanks.

ing Solutions, explains, “Fuel shrinkage, where the quantity of the fuel decreases between the point of storage, transportation and point of sales, is typically due to factors such as leakage, theft or measurement inaccuracies.”

What can cause such inaccuracies? There are a variety of reasons, such as, daily deliveries and frequent dispensing activity means the fuel level within the tank is constantly changing; ripples in the tank from deliveries and tank tilt; as well as inaccurate measurements of what fuel was to be delivered. The list can be long.

Combating shrinkage

Some gas station operators continue to use the old manual methods of checking the tanks, which involves taking a dip stick to measure what’s in the tank and trying to reconcile these numbers with hard copy delivery reports or daily sales. While a manual check is certainly inexpensive, manual checks do not provide fully accurate measures of fuel going into and out of the operation, all of which have considerable consequences.

“For retailers striving to remain profitable, losing even a small amount of their most valued product can result in significant repercussions,” says Negley. “Additionally, environmental compliance

CCentral.ca OCTANE March | April 2024 7

requirements have become more stringent in recent years, with agencies conducting inspections and issuing fines for leaks or non-compliant technologies. Each of these factors underscores the necessity for enhanced and effective fuel management tech-

Technology enables up-to-date accurate fuel measuring. For instance, Dover Fueling Solutions has sensors and systems that allow for accurate measuring of what is in the tanks, including its 3D Laser that is made to accurately determine the exact volume of liquid in fuel tanks and to automatically provide a precise strapping table, which can then be sent to an automatic tank gauge (ATG), and thereby provide an accurate reconciliation report of fuel stock. In addition, the Veeder-Root TLS4 or TLS4B ATGs— which can be upgraded to the TLS-450PLUS—eliminates the need for manual dipping, while providing more accurate fuel

The technology also helps with reconciliation, one of the most important parts of running a gas station. Ensuring that it is done consistently and accurately helps to reduce theft; identify if storage tanks or the lines delivering fuel to the pumps are leaking; or, if there is any faulty equipment. Plus, the technology ultimately helps to ensure that margins are calculated correctly.

Accurate measurement = accurate ordering

By having accurate measurements of what goes into and out of the storage tanks, gas stations can then tie those measurements into today's advanced computer-based fuel management systems, which allows for more accurate ordering of fuel. This is critical, as gas stations operate on tight margins and knowing when to order fuel to meet demand, and to price the fuel at a competitive rate, is critical.

Technology has advanced to such a degree that one can collect real-time information on daily fuel consumption by customers, which helps produce accurate historical forecasts of fuel sales. In turn, operators can use this information to adjust fuel orders to meet peaks and troughs in demand.

In all cases, fuel management solution providers build into their systems tools that will automatically order more fuel from the gas station’s fuel provider when it finds fuel stock running low or if, for example, an anticipated sales peak is approaching.

Doing this also helps in reconciliation.

Hamby says that Invenco’s fuel management system brings all that information together, from inventory readings, forecasts, historical sales and consumption data, even weather events impacting fuel sales at the pumps to “accurately see what is going on. This deep understanding then allows you to make decisions as to when it is the best time to buy fuel—is it right now, later; is it best to buy from Terminal A or Terminal B—and by balancing all them together you [can] be more accurate with your reconciliation.”

Hamby adds that accurate reconciliation has a direct impact on customers, by ensuring that fuel is available when they arrive to fill their tanks, and that fuel is priced competitively.

The AI revolution

Reconciliation and fuel management is poised for a major shakeup, with AI systems tied to advanced video monitoring and an ever-growing number of sensors providing real time information about customer behaviour, fuel consumption and fuel stock inventories and usage, according to Jason Chiu, professional services group manager, Canada, with Axis Communications.

“The capability to integrate data from multiple disparate systems and present it in a meaningful way—for example, fuel inven-


tory, prices, time spent at the pump, time spent in the c-store, traffic patterns outside and inside the c-store—can yield insights into consumer behaviours,” he adds.

These insights can be used to create targeted advertising to lure fuel customers into the c-store: Coffee for the morning commuter; ready-made meals for tired and hungry travellers; or even real-time weather information that then promotes relevant products, such as windshield washer fluid.

Dover Fueling Solutions’ The Future of Fueling Report: Innovation at the Pump 2023 finds that ads at the pump are catching the attention of younger consumers and helping drive c-store foot traffic.

According to the report, “more that more than half (51%) of consumers ‘always’ or ‘often’ notice advertisements on or around a fuel pump, but consumers have mixed opinions on their effectiveness. Close to one-third (32%) say fuel pump commercials or ads have convinced them to enter a convenience store, with age also playing a factor in that decision. Gen Z and millennial consumers are more likely to be swayed to go into a c-store based on ads at the pump, and nearly half of them (46%) say those ads influenced their purchasing decision.”

Perhaps this is why, in early 2023, Dover launched, as part of its DFS Anthem UX platform, the DFS AX12 enhanced fuel pump that supports a 12-inch touchscreen display, which allows for the display of ads and other promotional content designed to drive people into the c-store.

Fuel management and c-store management go hand in hand. With today’s increasingly advanced technologies, operators and their customers can now expect more from each fuel fill at the pumps.

OCTANE C-Store Commander POS and Back Office Software INTUITIVE AND RELIABLE TECHNOLOGY • Robust promotions • Dynamic reporting • PA-DSS certified • Full cycle inventory management • Loyalty and gift card options • Wayne and Gilbarco Pay @ Pump • Contactless payment options • Fleet card management and control • 24/7 Support • Customized solutions available • And much
Designed to support fuel and convenience operations on a modern technology platform. Please contact us for more information. 888-925-8125 | www.infonet-tech.com We also have solutions for unattended fuel sites, First Nation retailers, marina and aviation operators. GRANGER FUELS LTD. GRANGER FUELS LTD. Your success is our success and we are here every step of the way C O N T A C T U S F O R M O R E I N F O R M A T I O N : 5 1 9 - 9 6 3 - 3 0 0 1 G R A N G E R F U E L S C O M Air Miles SHELL GO+ Top Quality Fuel Site Operations Essentials G E T T H E P O W E R O F T H E S H E L L S U P P O R T S U I T E 73000 Airport Line, Hensall, Ontario N0M 1X0 Tel: 519-263-3107 / 1-888-763-7779 Fax: 519-263-3108 Email: contact@easybuildingproducts.ca Web: www.easybuildingproducts.ca EASY BUILDING PRODUCTS
PVC Interlocking Liner Panels
Make CarWashing Easy™ SonnysDirect.com 800-327-8723 Sonny’s New NeoGlide™ Plush Brush features offset injection molded rings that make the brush quieter and denser for superior wash performance. It won’t flip mirrors, and individual sections can be replaced in minutes to extend brush life. SonnysDirect.com 800-327-8723 superior cleaning that saves time and money on maintenance. Easy is Eas Easy E Call Bill Barber at 1-855-695-3141 or email at bill@washlinks.ca Member of SONNY’S Select Service Organization Scan to learn more

National Shopper Study

Forecourt & EV Report: A shift in routine

Inflation and economic pressures are trickling down to the forecourt, translating into a slight downtick in daily/weekly trips and second thoughts about purchasing new vehicles, according to insights from the 2024 C-store IQ: National Shopper Study from Convenience Store News Canada + OCTANE

Now in its fourth year, C-store IQ is the only convenience and gas specific study delving into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of consumers in Canada.

Led by our sister brand EIQ Research Solutions, we surveyed more than 2,000 convenience shoppers across the country to capture valuable insights into Canada’s ever-evolving convenience and forecourt landscape.

Check out p. 15 in CSNC for more insights. Plus, we will be publishing detailed reports in the coming months, diving into loyalty, foodservice, technology and more.

CCentral.ca OCTANE March | April 2024 11

Aspects that influence decision to shop for in-store products on gasoline trip

Loyalty programs are proving effective on several fronts, with more than a quarter of shoppers saying they have been influenced to shop in-store when making a fuel stop. In addition, engagement with mobile app promotions increased significantly vs. last year, surpassing car wash promotions for third place. Data shows younger shoppers—generation Z and millennials—have a different relationship with forecourt marketing than the older cohort of generation X and boomers. Younger fuel customers are more influenced by:

• Video displays on pump (10% vs. 5%)

• Nozzle display ads (14% vs. 10%)

• Audio music feed (9% vs. 2%)

• Coupons dispensed at pump (16% vs. 11%)

• Mobile app promotions (22% vs. 14%)

• Ability to order at pump (13% vs. 8%)

• Ability to order by mobile (11% vs. 3%)

CANADA’S LEADING DOG WASH DISTRIBUTOR Attract More Customers to Your Business With a Car Wash for Dogs! EXCELLENT REVENUE GENERATOR SELF SUFFICIENT TOP QUALITY CONSTRUCTION FAST RETURN ON INVESTMENT COMPETITIVE DIFFERENTIATOR We Offer Flexible Leasing With Low Monthly Payments We Offer Payments LOW MAINTENANCE i n f o @ f u r e v e r c l e a n . c a | w w w . f u r e v e r c l e a n . c a | ( 2 5 0 ) 2 1 7 - 9 4 3 3 SAVE SPACE WITH OUR DOG WASH BUILDING Frequent buyer/loyalty programs Promotional signage Mobile app promotions/deals Car wash promotions Banners/window signs Coupons dispensed at pump Nozzle display ads Ability to order at the pump Pump toppers Video displays on pump Ability to order by mobile Audio feed with messages None of the above Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023 28% 23% 19% 22% 16% 16% 14% 9% 18% 12% 10% 8% 6% 11% 16% 14% 14% 7% 5% 28% 23%
C-STORE iQ National
shopper study

Frequency of convenience store visits: gasoline only vs. in-store only vs. both

Fuel prices and changing commuter habits appear to be contributing to a decrease in daily and weekly trips compared to a year ago. At the same time, monthly trips to buy gas and go in-store increased, perhaps indicating shoppers are delaying purchases to control spending or, they are simply not driving as much.

Of note, younger shoppers—think generation Z and millennials— are more likely to fuel up daily than generation Xers or boomers (5% vs. 1%)—likely due to budget restraints and the need to fuel in smaller denominations.

There are also notable differences by geographic region: 60% of people living in Atlantic report purchasing gas only on a daily or weekly basis vs. those in Ontario (49%), Quebec (52%), Alberta (45%), B.C. (35%).

When it comes to getting both gas and popping into the c-store store, males are more likely to do so on a daily or weekly basis compared to females (40% vs. 35%).

A breakdown of daily/weekly combined visits by region looks like this: B.C. (30%), Alberta (30%), Ontario (38%), Quebec (40%) and Atlantic (43%).

PRECISION TANK & LINE TESTING Have confidence in the integrity of your fuel storage systems. To learn more: 1-866-574-5100 info@nee.ca
O’Brien’s precision tank and line test, now offered by NEE, stands as the world’s fastest and most accurate method for leak detection. Harnessing the very latest in technology, our test excels in identifying leaks with best-inclass testing for probability of detection. 3% 19% 18% 4% 4% 5% 8% 3% 3% Daily Weekly Monthly Every 6 months Yearly or less Never 10% 5% 10% 33% 24% 31% 43% 45% 34% In-store only Gasoline only Both gasoline
in-store 37% 37% 5% 5%

Currently own an electric vehicle

Currently own an electric vehicle and importance of convenience store having charging station

Nearly one-in-ten shoppers surveyed say they own an electric vehicle, a decrease from a year ago, likely due in part to a shopper base of respondents that has shifted rural, where accessibility to public chargers might hamper ownership. However, digging a little deeper, we note major generational differences, younger shoppers (12%) more likely to own an EV vs. older shoppers (4%).

Here's how it looks in different provinces: Ontario (12%), Quebec (8%), Alberta (5%) and Atlantic (7%).

Still, most EV owners feel it is important for c-stores to offer charging stations.

Likelihood to consider purchasing electric vehicle in next two to three years

Purchase interest in electric vehicles has softened compared to last year; rising costs, interest rates and concerns around charging station access could all be contributing factors. However, with the December 2023 announcement of the federal government's electric vehicle sales mandate regulations–the national target is 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035–this is likely a temporary pause tempered by financial pressures and people tightening spending.

Important features for EV charging stations

CCentral.ca 14 March | April 2024 OCTANE
Convenient location Close to other stores that I can shop Free Wi-Fi Ability to get meal/snack/beverage Membership program with discounted rates Close to other services I can use Seating area/lounge Close to outdoor space/park I can enjoy Dedicated area for children Enclosed outdoor space for dog use In-store gaming/entertainment Other Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023 8% 53% 33% 32% 28% 24% 17% 17% 15% 11% 8% 6% 3% Extremely/very important 31% Extremely/ very likely 12% Somewhat likely 24% Somewhat important 37% Not at all/not very important 32% Not at all/not very likely 65%
of shoppers
a plug-in electric vehicle of
electric vehicle 91 % 9 %
currently own
shoppers do not currently own a plug-in
17% 28% 55%
Pre-finished Wall & Ceiling Liner Panels by NUFORM NEW colour for 2024! Tongue & Groove Interlocking System 3/8” thick durable panels that are smooth and easy to clean NUFORM GRAY & Available in 12” & 18” widths Additional Available Colours Features & Benefits: • Easy to install, hidden fasteners • Mold & Mildew Resistant • Durable & Easy to Clean • Standard and Custom Lengths • No gluing or special tools required • Class ‘A’ Fire Rating • Full range of Trim Accessories available 1•888•430•9359 MANUFACTURED IN WESTERN CANADA BY PUMPS & PRESSURE INC. • Commercial Vehicle Wash Equipment • Cleaning Equipment • Automatic Car Washes • Waste Water Recycle • CAT Pumps & pumps of all kinds • Pressure Washers • Air Compressors • Cleaning Chemicals • Car Wash Accessories RED DEER | EDMONTON | CALGARY | BRANDON | GRANDE PRAIRIE | LETHBRIDGE | SASKATOON www•pumpsandpressure•com “Precision Testing And Inspection Specialists.” Toll Free: 1-866-565-2611 www.leaktechsol.ca We’re expanding! Looking for experienced service technicians. Training provided. Contact us at info@leaktechsol.ca Certified company for all your aboveground and underground requirements. Very little disruption to your day to day operation. CPCA certified technicians. Helium Pinpoint leak locating service. 3rd party inspection of underground and aboveground storage tank system, installation by a certified technician. PETROLEUM POS SYSTEMS MARKET LEADER Loyalty, couponing, gift processing, and merchandizing discount This flexible system combines PETROLEUM POS SYSTEMS MARKET LEADER bullochtech.com Loyalty, couponing, gift processing, fuel and merchandizing discount capabilities included. This flexible system combines the most features and lowest cost base of any comparable controller in use today.
Englobe is your Fuel Management Partner*, specializing in: —Fuel Management —Measurement Canada ASP —Compliance/Specialized Inspections —Tank/Line Testing —Tank Cam Inspections —API 653 Inspections *Formerly known as our Tanknology service SERVICE | TECHNOLOGY INTEGRITY | ACCOUNTABILITY 800-263-1429 www.air-serv.ca AIR-serv is a ServiceWorks Company NFLATINGTIRES FORCHARITIES We provide over 100,000 service visits annually to our customers Serving the Canadian Retail Petroleum/ Convenience Industry for over 35 Years Safety First Culture Fast & Easy –Enhance customer satisfaction JUST TAP N GO!



Be there when the convenience, gas and car wash industries come together for two incredible days of learning, product discovery, networking and celebration. Each day will kick off with an action-packed morning of insights, followed by the opportunity to meet the best in the business at the Trade Show from 12 to 5 p.m. As Canada’s largest and best-attended industry event, you don’t want to miss it!

What’s new?

Power Hour: Sign up for rapid-fire 1:1 conversations with the leaders you want to meet.

Trade Show Stage: Live demonstrations and learn from industry leaders all from the trade show floor!

Beer Garden: Sample and connect with suppliers. Industry Dinner: March 5 after the cocktail reception. Tickets on sale now!

Future Leaders in Convenience + Car Wash Awards: Presented at the C-store IQ Conference on March 6, get ready for a dynamic morning.

Plus, the Canadian Carwash Association will present valuable morning sessions to inform and inspire this fast-growing segment (details on p. 19).

Whether you’re a vendor/supplier or a retailer/ operator, Canada’s largest and best attended industry event is the best place to grow your business.


Tuesday March 5

Emcee: Tara Spencer-Nairn, Canadian actor and star of Corner Gas, Ghosts and more!

7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Registration and Breakfast*

9 a.m. to 12 p.m. C-store IQ Conference

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch*

12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Trade Show

5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Cocktail Reception

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Industry Dinner **

* only for those registered for the C-store IQ Conference or Association education sessions

**ticketed event, registration required

Wednesday March 6

7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Registration and Breakfast*

9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. C-store IQ Conference + Future Leaders in Convenience + Car Wash Awards

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch*

12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Trade Show

* only for those registered for the C-store IQ Conference or Association education sessions

OCTANE March | April 2024 17 CCentral.ca


10K Distribution

3SI Security Systems

A1 Cash and Carry

Abell Pest Control Inc.

ACCEO Solutions Inc.

Access Cash powered by Perativ

Adco Displetech


Airlift Doors

AM Shelving

Aqua-Detox North America (Vero Solutions Inc.)

Aspire Bakeries

AVW Equipment

BarBurrito Restaurants Inc.

Beer Nuts Brand Snacks

Beverage World Inc.

BGIS Energy & Facility Solutions Inc.

Big Chief Meat Snacks Inc.

BLAST-OFF Fireworks

Bobcaygeon Brewing Company

Brokerhouse Dist. Inc.

Bulloch Technologies

CAF Outdoor Cleaning

Cafe Amsterdam (Custan Foods Ltd.)

Cafe William (CAFE Vittoria Distribution Inc.)

Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association

Canadian Carwash Association

Canadian Krown Dealers

Canadian Trade House - Teja Food Group

Canco Petroleum Ltd.

Century Tobacco Company

Cheltenham Holdings (EcoTank) Inc.

Chester's International

Convenience Industry Council of Canada

Conagra Brands Canada

Costco Business Centre

Country Signs

Country Style MR. SUB

Covered Bridge Potato Chips

Cowbell Brewing

Crafty Ramen

Creative POS Ltd.

Cree Lighting

Convenience Store News Canada

Danone Canada


Dover Fueling Solutions

Drakkar International


Due North (Minus Forty & QBD)

Easy Building Products

Econo Petroleum


Englobe Corp

Eurovac Inc.

Exact One Ltd.

Exim Universe

Flex-Cash ATMs Inc.

Food Service Solutions Inc.

Franklin Electric Fueling Systems

Freshstone Brands

Fun Tyme Foods/Wonderland Foods

Gemsys Websafe

Giant Snacks

Granger Fuels Limited


Hamilton Manufacturing Inc.

Harry's International Manufacturing Inc.

Healthy Crunch (Lebeau Excel brand)

Hi Sharp

Hilary's Salesmaster Inc./5 Hour Energy

Honey Innovative

Horse and Buggy Brands

Husky Corporation

Hydralyte (Lebeau Excel Brand)

Imperial Tobacco Canada

Incredible Group

Infinat8 Brands Inc.

InfoNet Technology Corporation

Innovative Control Systems Inc.

INS Market

J&J Snack Foods


Dippin' Dots

Jack Link's Protein Snacks

JTM Foods - JJ’s Bakery & Cookies’n Milk

Kalcor Canada

Kane's Distributing Ltd.

Keurig/Dr. Pepper

Kiosoft Technologies, LLC

Krack Corn

Lake of Bays Brewing Company

Lake of the Woods Brewing Company

Le Groupe Martel

Leak Technologies Solutions Inc.


MacEwen Petroleum

Mark VII Equipment Inc.

Mars Wrigley

McClean Solutions LLC

McCowan Design and Manufacturing

McDougall Energy Inc.

Mevol Canada Ltd.

MI Petro Group of Companies

Mini Melts

Molson Coors


Mondoux Confectionary Inc.


Multiplay Wholesale Inc.

Murray Market National Inc.

Muskoka Brewery

Mystical Distributing Company Ltd.

National Energy Equipment Inc.

National Retail Solutions




Nickel Brook Brewing Co.

NOV Fiber Glass Systems

Now Prepay

Nuform Building Technologies Inc.


Ontario Convenience Stores Association

Ontario Craft Brewers Association

Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation

OPW Fueling Components Group

P.D. McLaren Limited

Pacific Smoke International Inc.


Patel Processing

PDQ Manufacturing Inc.

Petro Service Limited


PIM Brands Canada

Pizza Pizza

Pocas International Corp.

Pop Daddy Snacks

Poppa Corn Corporation

Pratts Convienence

Premier Brands

Prime Deals International Ltd.

Propel Natural Brands

Raimac Industries

Refined Fool Brewing Co.

Rinsed - The Car Wash CRM

Rubicon Food Products

Scholtens Inc.

Signature Site Services Inc.

SIR Solutions Inc.

Sleeman Breweries

Smart Label Solutions Inc.

Smart Serve Ontario

Smucker Foods of Canada Corp

Soapy Brushy

Sonny's the Car Wash Factory

South Cove Foods

Southern Recipe Small BatchRudolph Foods

Sparkle Solutions

SRP Canada Creative Planogram Co.


STM Display Sales

Structural Panels Inc.


Tank Traders

TFB & Associates Limited

TFI Food Equipment Solutions

The 42 Degrees Company

The Great Canadian Meat Company

Tokai of Canada Limited

Tommy Car Wash Systems

Transchem Inc.

Tres Picosos

TRUE North Nutrition


Turning Point Brands

TWIGZ Pretzels

Unique Foods (Canada) Inc.

Van Holten's

Van Houtte Coffee Service Inc.

Varon Corp

Vending Products of Canada

Vicenberg Cold Storage Inc.

Vidya Brands Group


WashTech Solutions Inc.

Western Refrigeration & Beverage Equipment Ltd.

Wiz-Tec Computing Technologies Inc.

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services™ (WSPS)

X-Tron Poles and LIghting

XSite Group Inc.

Yeno Trading


1-877-759-5159 www.canaturewg-cied.com/car-wash-case-study Phoenix, AZ . Whitestown, IN . Houston, TX . Regina, SK . Cambridge, ON . Guadalajara, MX Canature WaterGroup™ is one of North America’s leading manufacturers and distributors of residential and commercial water treatment solutions. Stop Sending Money Down the Drain High Efficiency Multi-Tank Softeners � Use 40% - 50% less salt and water* � Simple to install, service and maintain � Continuous soft water at all flow rates � 5-year warranty on valves, tanks and electronics *compared to conventional softeners Learn more about high efficiency water softening

MARCH 2024


March 5, 2024 - International Centre, Hall 5

8:25 - 8:30 a.m.

Welcome & Introductions

Karen Smith, President, Canadian Carwash Association

8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Build Better Managers

Claire Moore, Chief Learning Officer, International Carwash Association

9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

What’s Next With Sustainability Practice?

Robert Widler, Business Development Officer, aquadetox International

9:30 - 10:00 a.m.

CFIB Advocacy Update

Ryan Mallough, Director of Provincial Affairs, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

10:00 - 10:45 a.m.

Ask The Car Wash Experts

10:45 - 11:00 a.m. Networking Break

Duro Bicanic, Bicorp Design Group Ltd.

Dave Hill, Transchem Group

Tim Walker, Soapy Brushy

Robert Widler, aguadetox International

11:00 - 11:45 a.m. CCA Annual General Meeting






This door has become popular due to it’s low maintenance, high speed operation, and ability to break away from the door opening on impact and automatically reset. Options include the Elite model and Premium Model. Elite model will operate at speeds of up to 24” per second and the Premium Model can reach speeds of 34” per second. The Premium model also has the Strapeze Counterbalance System and offers a pull cord release for emergency exit.




Is your one stop for PVC Liner panels, Slatwall, roof and wall steel cladding, and more. Come ask about the trim packages that make the product a 'go to' for the contractors.




Get the power of the SHELL brand for your location. We support you in every step of your retail journey. With 57 years of experience exclusively with Shell we have the experience and knowledge to bring your site to the next level with the World recognized Shell brand. Becoming a Shell retailer has never been easier. We can put together a competitive offer and support your seamless transition from your current brand to the world leading Shell brand. Give us a call, or check us out on the web!




• Serving the Canadian Retail Petroleum / Convenience Industry for over 35 Years

• Safety First Culture

• We provide over 100,000 service visits annually to our customers

• Fast & Easy – Enhance customer satisfaction

800.263.1429 air-serv.ca


Problems inside a UST like corrosion, cracking, blistering, de-lamination—issues that compromise your fuel and could lead to catastrophic consequences to your site are notoriously hard to pinpoint. Getting a good clear look at what is happening inside the tank is traditionally dif ficult and labor intensive. Also, visually inspecting operational issues such as equipment corrosion, sludge, or debris, along with verifying over fill protection. Englobes Tank Cam video inspection system is the solution to that problem.

fmsales@englobecorp.com englobecorp.com


Intuitive and Reliable Technology

Designed to support fuel and convenience operations on a modern technology platform.

• Robust promotions

• Full cycle inventory management

• Dynamic reporting

• PA-DSS certified

• Loyalty and gift card options

• Wayne and Gilbarco Pay at the Pump

• Contactless payment options

• Fleet card management and control

• Customized solutions available

• 24/7 Support

• And much more




This flexible system combines the most features and lowest cost base of any comparable controller in use today.

We offer fully functional in-pump EMV, simplicity, stability and loyalty program experts.

With thousands of systems installed coast to coast, the Bulloch BT9000 is the most widely used and best supported station controller available in Canada.

Your success is our priority.



EUROVAC is an industry leader in the manufacturing of standalone vacuums, centralized vacuums and automotive detailing equipment. Eurovac also provides a complete solution with the addition of arches and canopy’s.

We offer engineered solutions at sensible pricing. Along with an engineered system Eurovac works with a national distribution network for local support.




FULL-SERVICE PRECISION LEAK TESTING COMPANY, assisting all industries in protecting our environment from accidental contamination. Very active in the Oil and Gas industry, we help our clients satisfy their specific needs, from collecting data on vessels to managing all testing and compliance requirements.



BOOTH #367 BOOTH #350 BOOTH #223 BOOTH #252 BOOTH #360 BOOTH #319 BOOTH #326 BOOTH #269 BOOTH #342


Mark VII Equipment is proud to be the industry's leading manufacturer of in-bay automatic car wash equipment. With the ChoiceWash XT®, you can expand your customer base by giving customers the option between a touch-free, soft-touch or combination wash option. Turn your convenience store into the Ultimate Profit Center that leaves all customers feeling satisfied, and their cars Clean, Dry and Shiny. Stop by our booth to see the ChoiceWash XT® in action!

1.800.525.8248 markvii.net


Have confidence in the integrity of your fuel storage systems.

Leighton O’Brien’s precision tank and line test, now offered by NEE, stands as the world’s fastest and most accurate method for leak detection. Harnessing the very latest in technology, our test excels in identifying leaks with best-in-class testing for probability of detection.




Feature powerful producers, cartridge filters, and tapered hoses that drive peak suction and performance. The stainless-steel construction stands up to years of service, with a look that will always stay in style. The unique design of the swivel cuff ensures that twisted hoses and cuff replacements are a thing of the past. We offer three powerful producers- the 2.0 single motor, dual motor, and semi-central- for a perfect vacuum for any carwash!




A choice of trusted brands and quality fuel products

Credible guidance on site construction, rebranding or image enhancement with dedicated business support

Connection to top recognized convenience store and quick service restaurant (QSR) opportunities

A secure supply with an extensive delivery network




in a line of revolutionary building systems. Our industry leading products such as CONFORM®, RELINE® and RENU® wall forming and lining systems are the result of continuous innovation, research, and development serving the residential, commercial and industrial construction and renovation industry across North America.




Experience the unprecedented cleaning performance of dual top brushes, mounted on a SINGLE PECO 304

Stainless-Steel Combo Frame spinning in opposite directions! Gently cleans the back of vehicles, even under rear.

SUV spoilers, and everything in between. Add additional Wraps, Tire Brushes and Side Washers to wash more cars in less space than ever before.




FlexPay 6 is the latest offering of OPT's offered from Invenco by GVR. This line of PCI 6 certified payment terminals is available in new Encore 700S dispensers, as well as retrofit kits for Gilbarco Veeder-Root, Wayne and Tolkeim dispensers.

FlexPay 6 All-In-One and Modular payment terminals include:

• 3.0 EMV Contactless Standard

• Native Cloud Connectivity

• 2-D bar code readers

Stop by the Petroservice booth #321 to see a live demo at CARWACS!



BOOTH #318 BOOTH #348 BOOTH #322 BOOTH #321
IPOS POINT OF SALE High throughput POS for Gas Stations • High throughput and reliability • Pump Control with Pay at the Pump • Save on time and labour costs • Integrated Back Office and reports • Best in class 24/7 support 1.866.361.7846 wiz-tec.ca
#117 BOOTH #333
#335 SUPPLIERS, WHAT’S NEW IN YOUR PRODUCT LINE? CONTACT: Julia Sokolova, 647.407.8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com Holly Power, 416.910.1085 hpower@ensembleiq.com BROUGHT TO YOU BY
TURN UP THE HEAT ON SUMMER SALES SILVER LININGS FOR FOODSERVICE TOBACCO & VAPING REPORT C-STORE iQ Insights into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of today’s c-store shoppers IT’S TIME FOR YOUR ANNUAL RENEWAL Scan the QR code to confirm your subscription National Shopper Study



9 Tobacco & Vaping Report

Down, but not out: Amid regulatory challenges and declining sales, innovation sparks tepid optimism for a category in transition

12 Foodservice Fundamentals

Silver linings: Costs, inflation and the opportunity for c-store foodservice to thrive



Comprised of leading retail executives and convenience operators, this volunteer group of industry champions offer advice, key insights and on-the-ground perspectives that serve as an invaluable resource to ensure content is relevant and meets the needs of the industry.

Robbie Broda, Little Short Stop

Marc Goodman, 7-Eleven Canada

Leslie Gordon, Circle K




Great expectations: Insights into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of today’s convenience customers

25 Feature

Making the most of summer: Convenience store operators and suppliers coast to coast share tips and timing for getting your c-store ready for the lucrative summer months


Delivered to your in-box Monday and Wednesday


out! Sign up today at CCentral.ca/signup Simply hover your phone’s camera over this code:
latest industry news and information, plus resources, foodservice insights, store solutions, tobacco/vaping updates and more. Don’t miss
& Randy Ure, Ure’s Country Kitchen
Editor’s Message Making connections
The Buzz People, places, news and events
2024 C-store IQ National Shopper Study
ready: Matt and Brandi Bialek own Manitoba-based Blast-Off Fireworks
top of mind for c-store shoppers across Canada? 25

Making connections

Welcome to the Consumer Insights issue, which features all new data from the fourth annual C-store IQ National Shopper Study

The 2024 edition features valuable insights about convenience shoppers across Canada. Working with the research team at our parent company, EnsembleIQ, we included several new questions that reflect the changing times (with the pandemic largely behind us, find out how consumer habits have changed p. 15) and evolving categories (recent announcements in B.C. notwithstanding, find out where c-store shoppers says they are buying smoking cessation products p. 11).

C-store IQ debuted in January 2020—just before the pandemic upended everything— as the first convenience and gas specific study delving into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of your customers. Since then, we’ve doubled the number of participants to provide a comprehensive snapshot of Canada—with coverage of shoppers by age, gender, region and more.

This issue includes a topline report (p. 15); tobacco and vaping data to accompany the 2024 Tobacco + Vaping Report (p. 9); and insights about the forecourt and attitudes towards EVs (OCTANE, p.11).

In the coming months, we will dig deep into the data and share with you detailed reports about your customers’ purchasing habits and thoughts on everything from sustainability to healthy snacking, loyalty, technology, foodservice and more. Please reach out and let me know if you’re interested in a particular topic.

I love hearing from our readers and those across the convenience, gas and car wash space. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy attending The Convenience U CARWACS Show it’s a fun and informative way to meet retailers, suppliers and key players from across Canada. Please stop by our booth and say hello or share your thoughts about what’s important to you and your business. It helps inform our digital and print content, as well as the conference agenda for the show. Once again, our editorial team has curated two exciting mornings of fantastic speakers and engaging discussions. Plus, we are thrilled to present the first annual Future Leaders in Convenience + Car Wash Awards Ceremony, which takes place on Day 2 (March 6) of the conference. We plan to make this in-person celebration an annual event.

Speaking of industry celebrations, nominations are now open for the Star Women in Convenience Awards. We want to hear about the Star Women in your network! The deadline is March 29th. Winners will be announced in the All Convenience e-newsletter, profiled in the July/August issue and celebrated at an event October 1—save the date!

20 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 1800, Toronto, ON M4R 1K8

(416) 256-9908 | (877) 687-7321 | Fax (888) 889-9522 www.CCentral.ca



Sandra Parente (416) 271-4706 sparente@ensembleiq.com



Michelle Warren mwarren@ensembleiq.com


Tom Venetis tvenetis@ensembleiq.com



Julia Sokolova (647) 407-8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com


Holly Power

416-910-1085 hpower@ensembleiq.com


Juan Chacon jchacon@ensembleiq.com



Nancy Peterman npeterman@ensembleiq.com


Jackie Shipley jshipley@ensembleiq.com


Michael Kimpton mkimpton@ensembleiq.com


Jakob Wodnicki jwodnicki@ensembleiq.com








Subscription Questions contactus@ccentral.ca

Subscriptions: Print $78.00 per year, 2 year $144.00, Digital $45.00 per year, 2 year $84.00, Outside Canada $120.00 per year, Single copy $14.40, Groups $55.20, Outside Canada Single copy $19.20.

Email: csnc@ccentral.ca

Phone: 1-877-687-7321, between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST weekdays

p.s. If the cold weather has you beat, we’re looking ahead to summer with tips for making the most of the season (p. 25). CSNC

Fax: 1-888-520-3608 | Online: www.ccentral.ca/subscribe

Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is published 6 times a year by Ensembleiq. Convenience Store News Canada | Octane is circulated to managers, buyers and professionals working in Canada’s convenience, gas and wash channel. Please direct inquiries to the editorial offices. Contributions of articles, photographs and industry information are welcome, but cannot be acknowledged or returned. ©2024 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, including photocopying and electronic retrieval/retransmission, without the permission of the publisher. Printed in Canada by Transcontinental Printing | PM42940023


4 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada

New Name. New Possibilities.


At Nuvona, we strive to meet the needs of adult tobacco consumers who are increasingly seeking new options. This reflects our commitment to leading change, and how we lead in every part of our business.

out to your Nuvona sales representative today for more information.




Are you planning to sell beer, wine, cider and ready-to-drink cocktails once the Ontario government extends the program to convenience stores?

74 % Yes


Maybe, I will see how other retailers do before committing

4 % No

0% I already sell beer, wine etc.



1. B.C. moves flavoured nicotine pouches behind pharmacy counters

2. Special Report: C-store customers crave sugar-free snacks and beverages

3. Groupe Beaudry acquires Distribution Régitan

4. Ipsos Canada: 5 trends to inspire and elevate your foodservice game in 2024

5. Conagra Brands Canada announces two additions to leadership team

6. Product of the Year Canada announces 2024 winners

7. Dover Fueling Solutions acquires POS provider Bulloch Technologies

8. Quebec's minimum wage going up May 1

9. 5 ways convenience retailers can use AI now

10. OPW acquires Transchem Group

Don’t miss the latest news and trends, get the All Convenience e-newsletter delivered to your in-box Monday + Wednesday. Sign up at CCentral.ca/newsletter

23_011342_Convenience_Store_News_CN_MAR_CN Mod: January 19, 2024 9:55 AM Print: 01/25/24 page 1 v2.5

SAVOR THE EXPERIENCE SweetsAndSnacks.com Our future looks bright in Indianapolis. This vibrant city will add a fresh new flavor to the world’s premier candy and snacks event. You won’t just experience the industry’s hottest innovations and coolest trends, but you can also sample the surprising treats that Indy has to offer. MAY 13-16, 2024 | INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, USA We’re on the move.
LET THE INDUSTRY KNOW ABOUT YOUR NEW PRODUCT LAUNCH Sandra Parente Senior Vice-President, Grocery and Convenience, Canada 416.271.4706 sparente@ensembleiq.com Julia Sokolova Sales Director, Convenience Store News Canada 647.407.8236 jsokolova@ensembleiq.com Holly Power Business Development, Convenience Store News Canada + OCTANE 416.910.1085 hpower@ensembleiq.com Contact your sales consultant to spotlight your product! Sign up today! The monthly New on Shelf e-newsletter features products carefully selected by our editors, as well as sponsored product placement. From confection to snacks, beverages and more, we’re spotlighting product innovation. Sponsored products will:
be featured in our New on Shelf enewsletter – you choose the date • live on ccentral.ca- so retailers have access 24/7
be promoted through brand social channels Specifications
1 product shot (655 x 368, 1MB, JPG file)
1 product write-up (50-75 words)
Click-through URL featuring the product www.CCentral.ca First Thursday, monthly A SPOTLIGHT ON PRODUCTS LAUNCHING IN CANADA


Amid regulatory challenges and declining sales, innovation sparks tepid optimism for a category in transition

When adult customers step into Family Variety in Bolton, Ont., a town northwest of Toronto with about 27,000 residents, they can walk straight ahead into the c-store to purchase lottery, cigarettes, snacks, drinks and the other usual items.

Or they can open the sliding door to their left, where Family Variety operates a small vape shop.

Prominent signage on the door indicates entry is restricted to adults 19 and over. Wide enough to accommodate about two adults at a time, the shop’s side and back walls feature floor-to-ceiling shelves of vaping devices (pens, pod systems, disposables), as well as e-liquids/juice, pods and cartridges in flavours like “super spearmint,” “explosion orange,” “tropical breeze” and “bussin’ banana.” Brands include Flavour Beast, STLTH, Allo, Fruitbae, Vuse, Level X, Pop Vapor, Veeba, Ghost and Salt Nix.

The only evidence of the vape shop to passersby at Family Variety—located in a busy shopping plaza alongside other retailers like Chatime, Hakim Optical, Dollarama and Bulk Barn—is a large white window covered with the words in big black lettering, “Bolton Vapes.” In adhering to provincial regulations, the covering blocks vaping products and promotions from being visible to minors.

Opened in June 2022, “it’s doing well,” says Family Variety owner Christopher Reyhani, a 2023 Future Leaders in Convenience + Car Wash winner.

The shop is connected from behind the counter to the convenience store, allowing the cashier to slide between serving c-store and vape customers—no extra staffing required. Bolton Vapes has 35 5-star Google reviews praising the wide selection and prices.

Customers seek alternative products

“The c-store industry is evolving, and consumers are looking for smokeless alternatives,” says Reyhani. “Vapour products have become popular over the past few years. With increased demand for vapour products, companies have grown in selection and value for the consumers.” Products with the best value, he notes, “last longer and cost less” than competitors.

That includes market leaders like Pacific Smoke International headquartered in Markham, Ont., a wholesale distributor of electronic vapes and e-liquids, including Flavour Beast and Allo. “We have established

a strong foothold in the independent c-store market,” notes Gero Petrolito, who leads the convenience and gas channel at Pacific Smoke. (See full Q&A at CCentral.ca or follow the QR code at the end of the article.)

As for Reyhani’s advice for c-store owners and managers? “With alternatives to nicotine-delivery, retailers should keep up to date with products that consumers are interested in.”

Delivering results in all sorts of ways

According to the Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC), cigarettes, e-cigs, other tobacco and pipe/cig tobacco are the top four declining categories at convenience. One of the big reasons for this is the rise in contraband, with bad characters brazenly taking to online marketplaces to move illicit product (see “Contraband battle moves online” p. 10.)

Still, these categories deliver a whopping $3.9 billion in annual sales for the channel nationwide—roughly $175,000 per store—and account for 7% of total c-store sales and 45% of in-store sales.

“The nicotine category is still the number one nonfuel contributor to Parkland’s On the Run convenience store sales,” says James Rolph, Parkland’s director, Canada convenience retail. “Not only do they help generate traffic, our nicotine customers gravitate towards other in-store offers like coffee, sandwiches, beverages and snacks.”

The rise of reduced risk products

Rolph is also optimistic about the evolution in the category brought on by product innovation. Think vapes, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco sticks.

“As our customers move toward risk-reduced products, we see solid growth in these areas and aren’t forecasting a slowdown anytime soon,” says Rolph. “The exception to this would be in markets where flavour bans have been implemented or are coming into effect. For example, we are now into the third month post-flavour ban in Quebec, and to date have not seen the category rebound.”

One example of a newer product is Zonnic, nicotine pouches from Imperial Tobacco Canada (ITCAN) that Health Canada approved for sale as a nicotine-replacement therapy. First launched on Oct. 31. 2023 in pharmacies in Quebec, Zonnic is now carried in about 5,800

CCentral.ca Convenience Store News Canada March | April 2024 9
Gero Petrolito Chris Reyhani
2024 Tobacco + Vaping Report
James Rolph

outlets nationally, the majority—about 4,800 stores— being in the c-gas channel. (Note, at press time, the B.C. government had just announced it was moving nicotine pouches behind the pharmacy counter and the CICC said it would urge the province to reconsider. Visit CCentral.ca for updates). By comparison, ITCAN cigarettes and its vaping brand, Vuse, are carried in 23,000 convenience outlets across the country.

“Our rollout of Zonnic will continue to expand further into the c-store footprint, as we want to make sure these products are available where smokers buy cigarettes and can switch to less harmful options,” says Michael Bonelli, vice-president, commercial marketing and sales, at ITCAN, which has been undergoing a transformation into a smoking cessation solutions manufacturer.

“We still sell cigarettes, but vaping and cessation products are what we talk about 90% of the time,” says Bonelli. “Our whole business is now centered around providing less harmful products to the market, including through our partners in convenience. It’s paramount that we work with them.”

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has numerous reduced risk products, but has yet to launch them in Canada.

“We are currently monitoring the business environment and assessing the impacts of potential regulatory changes in the future, in so far as products that have the potential to reduce risk are concerned,” says Elaine McKay, head of corporate affairs and comms, JTI Macdonald Canada.

Of heated tobacco sticks (HTS), McKay says the category remains small in Canada “mainly because of the unfavourable format and taxation,” but that it’s showing “continuous growth driven by increases in immigration post-COVID.” HTS are popular in parts of Asia and Europe.

Nicotine pouches is another relatively small product category, but “has growth potential if you benchmark Canada against the U.S. market.” For now, though, she says “there remains an uncertainty around how regulation will develop in Canada.”

Still, despite the regulatory challenges, it’s clear the tobacco and vaping category isn’t without opportunity and potential.


Illicit tobacco used to be sold largely out of the trunk of a vehicle, with some even set up in c-store parking lots.

“Now that transaction is being replaced by the click of a mouse,” says Jeff Brownlee, VP, communications and stakeholder relations, the Convenience Industry Council of Canada (CICC).

At press time, CSNC did a quick Google search and came across more than half a dozen websites selling contraband cigarettes and vaping products to Canadians. Some sites even feature customer ratings on products and expedited delivery though Canada Post’s Xpresspost. “That consumers can get their product delivered to their door by a Crown corporation legitimizes these websites to consumers,” says Brownlee. “The illegal activity is very blatant.”

Contraband is also being sold on online marketplaces.

Danny Fournier, manager, illicit trade prevention at RBH Canada—who spent more than 25 years in law enforcement specializing in organized crime investigations, including with the Quebec Provincial Police where he oversaw drug and contraband tobacco enforcement operations—says illicit trade of tobacco online has “not been very prevalent” until recently.

Contraband tobacco is estimated to represent 69% of the market in Ontario, 45% in British Columbia and 44% in Newfoundland, according to an EY Canada study in 2023 commissioned by the CICC.

According to RBH’s estimates, 25% of illegal cigarette sales are now online transactions.

“But if you include the next generation of products that are not combustible cigarettes, such as vapours, the percentage is higher than 25%, because some provinces have implemented bans on vaping flavour products,” says Fournier.

For example, there is little stopping people in Quebec, where vape flavours are banned, from making an illegal online order in Ontario. “There is no national coordination on this,” notes Fournier.

Highlighting the role the private sector can play, RBH Canada is working with the likes of Kijiji and Craigslist to remove ads hawking contraband.

“Kijiji alone was getting 100,000 new posts every day last fall for tobacco—I knew it would be large numbers, but I was expecting 10,000 or 20,000 per day—and so a combination of their technology and human intervention on our part helps identify and prevent those posts from going or staying up.”

One online marketplace where it doesn’t have cooperation: Facebook Marketplace. Fournier says they can’t get through to a real person to discuss the issue.

As for websites, RBH has had the most success working with the likes of Visa, MasterCard, Moneris and PayPal in curbing illicit sales, by shutting down their payment vehicles. Another option is to contact their ISPs, but some of them reside outside Canada.

Robust commercial operations of contraband tobacco online are reported to law enforcement.

“Online sale of tobacco and nicotine products is growing exponentially given the ease and convenience of ordering online and delivery,” agrees Elaine McKay, head of corporate affairs and comms, JTI Macdonald Canada. “When we are able to identify these sites, we conduct research and gather actionable information that is then provided to law enforcement and regulatory bodies.”

CCentral.ca 10 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada
Access the full 2024 Tobacco + Vaping Report online, including regulatory updates and a Q&A with Gero Petrolito 2024 Tobacco + Vaping Report
Elaine McKay


In 2024, there’s a notable drop in convenience shoppers who regularly use cigarettes, while new data reveals smoking cessation products are gaining market share.

Three-in-four smokers say they purchase from c-stores and that decision is influenced by convenient location, brand and price, according to the 2024 C-store IQ National Shopper Study

• Males more than females are influenced by price (38% vs. 28%).

• Younger—millennials and generation Z—shoppers are more influenced by special promotions than older shoppers—generation X and boomers—(12% vs. 6%) and packaging (8% vs. 3%).

• Shoppers in the Atlantic region are most influenced by location (61%), compared to

Quebec (44%), Ontario (42%) and B.C. (39%).

People purchase from multiple locations and this year those reporting they purchase from a reserve dropped to 23% from 26% in 2023 (but still higher than 19% in 2022). It’s worth noting that these numbers fluctuate greatly by province, with 35% of smokers in Ontario saying they purchase from a reserve, compared to Alberta (19%), B.C. (17%) and Quebec (10%). In Quebec, 78% of smokers say they purchase from a c-store vs. 66% in Ontario.

There is a notable generation divide when it comes to preferred habits.

Younger shoppers are more likely than older shoppers to use vaping devices (18% vs. 10%) and smoking cessation products (8% vs. 3%). In turn, the older cohort is more

likely to use cigarettes (28% vs. 21%).

Two-in-three shoppers that use vaping or e-cigarette products say they purchase from vape shops, with a growing share choosing other channels, most notably online. One bright spot for the channel, males are more likely to purchase vapes and e-cigarettes at c-stores than females (52% vs. 39%), however younger shoppers are more likely to purchase at vape shops (70% vs. 55%).

New in 2024, we asked c-store shoppers about their use of smoking cessation products. More than one-third (35%) of shoppers who buy smoking cessation products say they do so at a convenience store, signalling opportunity for a rapidly evolving category (unless new regulations roll out beyond British Columbia). CSNC

% of shoppers regularly using Cigarettes

Smoking cessation products

CCentral.ca Convenience Store News Canada April 2024 SHUTTERSTOCK, FLASH VECTOR
Influence on recent cigarette purchase Where cigarettes purchased Where vaping/e-cigarette products purchased Where cessation products purchased 34% 33% 10% 9% 5% 4% Convenient location Always purchase same brand Good price/value Other stores don't carry Special promotion Packaging Other Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023 27% C-store 36% Drug store 29% Grocery 21% Mass 20% C-store 74% Reserve 23% Other 9% 6% Vape shop 66% C-store 44% 2% C-STORE iQ
Vaping devices/e-cigarettes 6 % 24 % 14 % 13%

Silver linings


Costs, inflation and the opportunity for c-store foodservice to thrive

Times are tough in the restaurant industry. In January 2024, Restaurants Canada released the results of a survey of members that reported: “53% of restaurants are operating at a loss or barely breaking even, compared to 10% pre-pandemic.” Restaurants are challenging to operate at the best of times, with an average pre-tax profit for foodservice operations in Canada of 3.7% (from Restaurants Canada Foodservice Operations Report 2023).

The Canadian restaurant industry’s challenges are likely to continue through 2024, as the two biggest expenses (cost of sales and labour) continue to increase. While overall inflation is decreasing (3.4% year-over-year December 2023), food inflation was 4.4% in the same period, indicating the price of food is still increasing greater than all items. Also, restaurants are challenged in recruiting and retaining labour, more so than other service industries, and, as a result, are paying more for labour than they have in the past.

Coming out of the pandemic, consumers’ pent-up demand for entertainment and “revenge spending” benefitted restaurants, with people willing to pay more when dining out and accepting menu price increases. The most significant indicator of foodservice spending is consumer confidence and, unfortunately, Canadian consumer confidence recorded its second-lowest score in history in November 2023, the most recently released data. People are cutting back on their spending on away-from-home food, which is adding to restaurants’ challenges.

What’s worse, these restaurant operating pressures are not expected to improve in the short- to mid-term by even the most optimistic prognosticators. Tough times will continue for a while.

Consumers are dining out less and, when they do, are spending less. People are seeking value when patronizing foodservice operations.

Cost advantages

As discussed in my previous columns, there’s a significant cost advantage that convenience store operators have with respect to foodservice. In most cases, foodservice can be provided using little, if any, incremental labour. One of the two biggest expenses in a foodservice operation is labour, the other is cost of sales, which is (almost) 100% variable. The next biggest cost in a typical foodservice operation relates to occupancy expenses, which, in most cases, are not significantly incremental for convenience store operators. All other expenses are minimal. There are several ways to take advantage of these benefits.

• Maximize the labour cost advantage. Ensure that menu items are not labour intensive, but rather purchased ready-toserve or ready-to-heat-and-serve.

• Products should hold well (to minimize waste) without compromising quality.

• Foodservice should be located close to the cashier so that any service required can be done by existing employees.

• Cleaning and closing the foodservice area at the end of the day should be considered: Choose less labour-intensive menu items.

• Limit foodservice space to maximize the occupancy cost advantage: i.e. No seats (in many jurisdictions having seats requires offering public washroom facilities).

• Select menu items that are portable and easy to consume while walking or driving.

TIP: If you can, use a Merrychef-style oven to heat your product, as these tend to produce great quality menu items. Before investing in equipment, determine the return on investment (make sure your sales of heated product is significant enough) and,

given the challenges in the traditional foodservice industry, consider used equipment, which is plentiful and priced attractively.


Consumers are seeking value, and, with cost advantages, c-stores can set lower prices than traditional foodservice operators. Do a survey of prices at fast-food restaurants in your area and set your prices below, while still ensuring a healthy profit margin. Traditional foodservice operations mark up menu items by 65% to 70%. A convenience store can afford a lesser mark-up—50%—resulting in lower prices and greater value for the consumer, as well as a healthy profit.

TIP: When determining mark-up and pricing, consider the full cost of the menu item, including packaging and condiments. Add more value by offering combos with other products already in your store, such as beverages and potato chips.

Remember, the recommendation is lower prices for menu items of similar quality to your fast-food competitors. In most cases, I would not recommend using low quality products to minimize prices.

The challenges faced by traditional foodservices are significant and ongoing. In the wake of fast-food competitors being forced to take price increases at a time when consumers are seeking value, convenience stores are well-positioned to take advantage. Every cloud has a silver lining. CSNC

Jefff Dover is president of fsSTRATEGY, a consulting firm specializing in strategic advisory services for the hospitality industry, with an emphasis on food and beverage. He is based in Toronto and can be reached at 416-229-2290 ext. 2 or jdover@fsstrategy.com.

CCentral.ca 12 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada SHUTTERSTOCK












CANADA’S LEADING DISTRIBUTOR of convenience food service and beverage equipment
& FCB Dispensers
Coolers & Freezers
Door Coolers & Freezers
2, & 3 Door Options
Flaker & Nugget
Display Merchandisers
& Horizontal
& End Cap Displays
Food Programs
Multi-Purpose Vertical
Refrigerated Food Reach In’s Condiment Cases Ice Cream Soft Serve/Shakes Dipping Cabinets Miscellaneous Cup & Napkin Dispensers Trash Dispensers Safes Equipment Sales Delivery and Installation Product Training & Warranty Coverage Across Canada PROVIDING CANADIANS WITH THE LATEST SELECTION OF C-STORE EQUIPMENT 1.888.443.1946 WWW.WR.CA TURNKEY EQUIPMENT PACKAGES WESTERN REFRIGERATION & BEVERAGE EQUIMENT LTD. See for yourself how we can help enhance your sales today!

National Shopper Study

Great expectations: Insights into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of today’s convenience customers

Shoppers across Canada are putting a premium on price, as economic pressures shape overall spending, but confidence and engagement with the convenience channel remains high.

Nearly half of shoppers (47%) visit a convenience store at least weekly. However, data shows many are spending somewhat less than a year ago: Shoppers say they spent an average of $17.13 on their most recent visit (excluding the costs of gasoline), compared to $18.06 last year (but still up from $15.46 the previous year and $13.56 in 2019), accord-

ing to insights from the 2024 C-store IQ: National Shopper Study from Convenience Store News Canada

Now in its fourth year, C-store IQ is the only convenience and gas specific study delving into the wants, needs, perspectives and habits of consumers in Canada.

Led by our sister brand EIQ Research Solutions, we surveyed more than 2,000 convenience shoppers across the country to capture valuable insights into Canada’s ever-evolving convenience and gas landscape.

With comprehensive data by age demographics and geographical locations, the goal is, as always, to give you valuable insights

about your customers that will help inform business decisions and drive success.

Fresh insights

Compared to last year, shoppers reported a significant decrease—5 percentage points— in shopping at what they perceive as an independently-owned (non-branded) c-store on a weekly basis.

This is partly driven by the younger demographic—millennials and generation Z—44% of whom say they shop at chain convenience stores once a week or more, up from 37% last year.

When asked, “What is the name of the

CCentral.ca Convenience Store News Canada March | April 2024 15


Fresh new look!

Three reasons to nominate a colleague or client for an award

1. She makes a difference

2. She is valuable

3. She deserves recognition

Categories for 2024

Senior-level stars

Shining stars

Store-level stars

DEADLINE TO ENTER March 29, 2024

SAVE THE DATE October 1, 2024

International Centre Toronto

Visit StarWomenConvenience.ca or scan this code OCTANE Presented by

convenience store you shop at most often?” nearly half (47%) of shoppers named two major global players: 7-Eleven (19%) and Couche-Tard/Circle K (28%).

What’s driving store choice? Proximity prevails, with 29% of shoppers defining convenience as a close-by location. With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that most shoppers (69%) visit the same convenience store each time (Albertans are the most loyal—perhaps it’s geographical circumstance—with 75% shopping at the same store).

Overall, shoppers are getting back to basics with location, hours and purchasing gas increasing their influence on convenience store choice. Indeed, the research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic, which defined shopping habits for the past four years, is in the rear-view mirror.

Convenience shoppers are on-the-go, commuting to work and school or travelling more for pleasure and for business.

Data shows close to half of shoppers visit a convenience store to purchase gas, a significant increase over last year. Late night snacking and stops while running errands are the next most common, for nearly onethird of shoppers. Data shows the younger demographics love their late-night run to the convenience store.

New and noteworthy

New this year, we asked shoppers about their social media habits and if they follow c-gas operations. Fewer than one-third say they follow a c-store on social media, but this shifts when we break out data by age: Younger— again, think generation Z and millennials— are more likely to follow on social media versus older shoppers (38% vs. 22%). In addition, females are more likely than males to

follow c-stores on social (33% vs. 28%).

With an eye on c-stores as a source of innovation and inspiration, for the first time we asked: “What types of stores do you like to shop at to discover new products?”

Mass/superstores, online and grocery stores are destinations for finding new products, while convenience appears to be relied on more for routine and quick in-and-out trips. Of note, however, younger shoppers (19% versus 11% of older shoppers), say they rely on convenience stores as a source for new products. There’s an opportunity here to encourage shoppers of all ages to browse and discover. When asked about the types of new products they like to discover at convenience stores, shoppers say they are looking for interesting beverages, confectionery and snacks.

To understand impulse purchases, this year we asked: “When shopping at convenience stores, how often do you purchase items you didn’t plan to buy when you entered the store?”

Impulse at convenience is more of an occasional experience for most shoppers (younger shoppers tend to be more open to impulse buys), but there are opportunities to influence behaviour: Shoppers say spontaneous purchases are most often the result of a desire for a personal treat or to take advantage of a sale or promotion.

Looking ahead

What’s different this year? The importance of the shop “experience” has shifted, with fundamentals like pricing and in-stock items gaining influence, while employee friendliness, trip speed and store organization dropped.

Some notable differences by gender and ages in terms of what creates a positive experience:

Speed of trip:

14% of males vs. 10% of females

Employee helpfulness:

14% of males vs. 11% of females

Loyalty program:

32% of females vs. 26% of males

Quality of foodservice:

20% of younger vs. 14% of older shoppers

Fun to shop:

11% of younger vs. 7% of older shoppers

Contactless shopping:

6% of younger vs. 1% of older shoppers


8% of younger vs. 4% of older shoppers


74% of older vs. 64% of younger shoppers

Employee friendliness:

16% of older vs. 11% of younger shoppers

Quality of foodservice:

21% of shoppers in Quebec vs. 14% in B.C. and 9% in the Atlantic region.

With affordability top of mind, shoppers say they perceive c-stores as the more expensive option, with 61% saying better pricing is the dominant area where c-stores could improve to motivate more shopping trips, twice as important as second place—product variety.

This is a topline report, and we will continue to share data throughout 2024—in the magazine and online, as well as through special reports—to dig deeper into consumers’ attitudes, habits and expectations regarding key categories, sustainability, healthy snacking, foodservice, technology, fuelling, loyalty and more.

Plus, don't miss EIQ, VP research, Beth Brickel, present exclusive data and analysis at The Convenience U CARWACS Show on March 5, 2024.

Frequency of shopping store type

Grocery store Discount supermarket Mass/supercentre Drug Dollar Online stores Local independent stores (e.g., butcher, fishmonger, fruit market) Club Specialty/natural store 2% 2% 2% 3% 8% 9% 19%
Shop at any type of convenience store once/ week or more Shop at a chain convenience store once/week or more Shop at an independently-owned convenience store once/week or more 38% 41% 37% 42% 30% 33% 21% 26% 11% 18% 20% 24% 47% 35% 40% Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023 Shop once/week or more Never shop 40% 18% 13% 31% 25% Convenience Store News Canada March | April 2024 17 CCentral.ca 67% 70% 53% 51% 55%

What ‘convenience’ means to shoppers

Factors influencing convenience store visit

Occasions typically shop at convenience store

Time of day when typically shop at convenience stores

A spike in lunchtime trips in 2023 has dropped back to 2022 levels, while late night visits have increased significantly, driven by younger shoppers. Males are more likely to shop 7-10 p.m. (37% vs. 24% of females) and 10 p.m. or later (23% vs. 10% of females). In addition, shoppers in Ontario (21%) and Alberta (23%) are more likely to shop 10 p.m. or later vs. Quebec (12%), B.C. (15%) and Atlantic (14%) shoppers.

CCentral.ca 18 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada
% Shop same convenience store each time 69 %
29% Close by/ proximity 15% Affordable prices 13% Longer hours 12% Has basic necessities 12% Quick to shop 8% Easy to shop 7% Great variety 4% Friendly staff
Proximity / close by Longer hours To purchase gas Loyalty program Has products I can’t buy anywhere else Coupon Quality of foodservice Gas price app Word of mouth Mobile app offer
media promotion / messaging Private label brands Availability of contactless shopping Drive-thru Email Outdoor ad Mobile ordering Text message Radio or TV advertisement Curbside pickup None of the above 37% 32% 21% 12% 11% 10% 5% 5% 5% 4% 4% 3% 3% 2% 4% 4% 4% 8% 8% 6% 32% 12% 10% 29% 7% 7% 6% 6% 6% 5% 4% 5% 53% 47% Of shoppers shop the same convenience store each time 10% To purchase gas Late night snacking Running errands Special trips from home Travelling for pleasure Afternoon snack/ break Travelling to/ from work or school To purchase lunch While working from home Travelling for business To purchase dinner To purchase hot beverage / breakfast 46% 32% 30% 29% 25% 25% 23% 11% 17% 9% 9% 7% 40% 14 % 6:00 am-8:59 am 35 % 4:00 pm-6:59 pm 15 % 9:00 am-10:59 am 27% 2:00 pm-3:59 pm 31 % 7:00 pm-9:59pm 17% 10:00 pm or later 14% 22 % 11:00 am-1:59 pm 25% C-STORE iQ National shopper study Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023

Types of trips

For the second year, we asked shoppers how long they typically spend in-store and found three-in-four shoppers are relying on quick in-and-out trips to convenience stores, an increase over 2023, while longer browse and hang-out trips decreased. Of note, younger shoppers are more likely to browse (37% vs. 26% of older shoppers) and hang out (6% vs. 2%).

Following convenience stores by social media platform

Aspects that influence purchase decision when shopping in-store

Window signage

Product samples or demos

Wall posters or signage

Cooler stickers

Ceiling banners or signage

Digital display or video

Floor stickers

In-store audio or radio

None of the above

Factors that describe a positive shopping experience

CCentral.ca 20 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada 75 % Quick in-and-out Less than 5 minutes 71% 32 % Browse a bit 5-15 minutes 36% 4 % Hang out, eat & drink at store Over 15 minutes 6%
Shelf signage
counter sign or display
floor or aisle
Price of products Products I need are in-stock Loyalty/rewards program Variety of products offered Store cleanliness and hygiene General convenience Quality of prepared food Employee friendliness Employee helpfulness Speed of shopping trip Organization of store Fun to shop Offers delivery Look and feel of store Availability of contactless Offers curbside pick up Embraces cutting-edge technology 21% FACEBOOK 12% INSTAGRAM 10% YOUTUBE 7% TIKTOK 5% X Don’t follow any convenience stores on social media but of the 31% who do, Facebook and Instagram are most popular Importance of 'experience' when choosing which store to shop at 41% Very important/Important 31% Moderately important 27% Slightly/Not important 68% 60% 22% 21% 20% 19% 17% 15% 12% 10% 9% 7% 6% 28% 42% 37% 30% 26% 22% 17% 17% 13% 11% 11% 9% 6% 6% 4% 3% 2% 12% 16% 15% 14% 11% 4%
Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023
69 %
46% 27%

Areas where convenience stores must improve to encourage more shopping

Price of products

Variety of products offered

Loyalty/rewards program

Products I need are in-stock

Healthier/better-for-you items

Cleanliness of store

Quality of prepared food

Friendliness of employees

Variety of prepared food and beverages offered

Local or Canadian-made product offering

Look and feel of store

Helpfulness of employees

Speed of shopping trip

Organization of the store Coffee program

Larger package sizes/more bulk items

Fun to shop

Better commitment to sustainability/recycling

Likelihood to visit different store if items unavailable at current store shopped

Most shoppers continue to indicate that out-of-stocks will drive them to another store, with over one-third expressing high likelihood to do so. Alternatively, there is a growing segment of shoppers that is not as driven to shop elsewhere.

38% Extremely/Very Likely

39% Somewhat Likely

23% Not Very / Not At All Likely

Embraces cutting-edge technology
Availability of contactless shopping options
61% 30% 28% 27% 22% 21% 19% 18% 17% 15% 15% 14% 13% 13% 12% 12% 10% 8% 8% 6% 6% 57% 25% Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023 19% 11% 10% C-STORE iQ National shopper study



Store types shopped to discover new products

Preferred types of new products at c-stores

19% Drinks/beverages (general)

18% Candy/chocolate

16% Snacks (general)

9% Chips

7% New/unique flavours

4% Ice cream/frozen treats

3% Slushies

3% Pop/soda


On sale/promotion

To avoid going to another store

To treat someone else

Reason for recent impulse purchase at convenience store

CCentral.ca 22 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada
trip spend=$17.13
of unplanned
convenience stores
purchases at
Payment used
/ mass Online stores
store Club Dollar store Drug store
supermarket Local independent store Convenience stores Specialty / natural store Discovering new products does not influence the stores I shop at 45% 39% 38% 34% 32% 30% 28% 16% 15% 13% 10% 2% 9% 23% 21% 13% 13% 13% Retailer's mobile app 1% Mobile payment 6% Debit card 40% 36% Credit card 32% Some of the time 45% Most of the time 13% All of the time 4% Never 7% Rarely 32% Cash 19% Gift card 2% 3% $18.06
treat myself
Looked too good to pass up
Item I wanted
Item I wanted
expensive Recommendation from someone I know Employee recommendation 42% 27% 16% 16% 16% 16% 14% 10% 10% 7% 6% 6% 6% C-STORE
Less than $2 $2.00$4.99 $5.00$9.99 $10.00$14.99 $15.00$19.99 $20.00$29.99 $30.00 or more Significant increase/decrease vs. 2023
New item I want to try New flavour/variety Child
me asked to purchase Limited
was not available
was too
iQ National shopper study


Researchers noted the overall sample shift slightly more female and a minor shift towards rural (vs. urban and suburban) shoppers. The effort that retailers have been making to appeal to female shoppers appears to be having an impact. In terms of the rural bump, perhaps this can be attributed to population movement spurred by the pandemic and a rise in working from home.

Age & generation mean age 42.9 20% Gen Z 19% Gen X 35% Millennials 24% Baby boomers 3% Mature/Silent Living arrangements 58% With partner/ spouse and/or children 13% With parents 18% Alone 6% With friends 4% Other Residence type Rural 26% Urban 47% Suburban 28% Other 1% Male 42% Female 57% Gender QC 25% AB 10% ON 32% BC 11% MB 5% ATLANTIC 13% SK 3% Province/ Territory Ready-to-Eat Meat Category Survey of 4,000 people by Kantar Now Available! GrimmsFineFoods.com Jalapeño & Cheddar Pepperoni Bites WINNER! Get your free Small Business WORKPLACE SAFETY ROADMAP SAFETY, SIMPLIFIED SCAN QR NOW! WSPS.CA/SmallBusiness
® /TM BA Sports Nutrition LLC, used under license.


Convenience store operators and suppliers coast to coast share tips and timing for getting your c-store ready for the lucrative summer months

Peggy’s Cove is a must-see attraction for visitors to Nova Scotia.

In summer, tourists flock to the picturesque fishing village an hour’s drive southwest of Halifax to see its famous lighthouse and walk on barren rocks that jut out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Almost everyone passes by The Whale’s Back, a country store in neighbouring Indian Harbour.

Located on scenic Route 333—the only road to Peggy’s Cove—it is also the closest convenience store to the provincially-protected inlet.

Open daily year-round, it sells everything from groceries, baked goods, tobacco and alcohol to suntan lotion, ice cream, fireworks and souvenirs.

“We cater to everyone—locals and tourists alike,” says store manager Marcy Graves. “But from late May to early October we serve mostly tourists. And we can get awfully busy.”

Convenience Store News Canada March | April 2024 25
From top right: Summer treats; Whale's Bay Country Store near Peggy's Cove, N.S.; Fireworks set the tone for summer; Local gift items appeal to Nova Scotia tourists; A stroll through the forest inspired the murals painted by artist Tom Hutchings on the wall outside of Honeymoon Bay General Store on Vancouver Island (store front above); summer accessories; Duggers Variety in Midland, Ont. stocks visitors' preferred cigarettes

Winter is prep time

For Graves, success at the store in summer both starts with and depends on the plans and actions she and her team take during the quieter winter months.

They include visits to gift shows in search of merchandise for The Whale’s Back and its sister property—the Sou’Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop next to the lighthouse in Peggy’s Cove—and doing annual spring maintenance.

“We put out some picnic tables and spruce things up by cleaning and painting,” says Graves, who has been with the business 25 years. “Then we start looking at orders for things like fireworks, ice cream and saltwater toffee. Fortunately, we have a great list of suppliers, most of them local—and people love local products. The trick is to be ready when you see the uptick in business in late May.”

That’s a common refrain among c-store owners, operators and suppliers of all sizes and stripes in a country as cold as Canada. For many, the food, gas and supplies that cottagers, campers and road trippers buy in their stores during the summer months is crucial to their bottom line.

“Things are dead here until the May 24th weekend then—boom!— they go crazy until Labour Day,” says Laura Fevez, who owns and runs the Honeymoon Bay Food & General Store in Honeymoon Bay on Vancouver Island, an hour’s drive north of Victoria.

It is the only c-store in the village, which is nestled in pristine wilderness on Lake Cowichan, a popular summertime destination for campers, hikers, cyclists, boaters and anglers.

Since buying the business in the early summer of 2022 and going through what she calls “my baptism of fire” in the c-store trade, Fevez said she spends the slow winter months making physical changes to the store and expanding its product lines to make the most of the summer rush.

“You have to put in a lot of time and effort to think about things and to shop and order items you hope will find favour with your customers,” says Fevez. “It takes a lot of schlepping.”

In addition to expanding her store’s kitchen to make more food items, like breakfast sandwiches, pizza and samosas, which the previous owner introduced, she rearranged aisles and displays to improve the flow of traffic and give the business what she calls “more of a general store look where people can breathe and relax.”

Boost curb appeal

Fevez also cleaned up outside the store and added planter boxes, picnic tables and a bike rack “to make it more inviting for people, both locals and tourists, to come and sit and enjoy themselves.”

She also commissioned a local artist to create four nature-themed murals that were installed on the outside walls of the store on the Victoria Day weekend in 2023.

“It’s easy to drive by a place that has nothing of interest,” says Fevez. “But if you add atmosphere to it, like these four murals do, people will drop in. Like the old saying goes, you gotta make hay when the sun shines.”

Ensure the right product mix

“We call it the ‘Hundred Days of Summer,'” says Leena Halim, director of marketing for SRP Companies Canada, which supplies some 20,000 Canadian retail stores—including major gas stations, c-store chains and independents—with affordable eyewear, mobile electronic devices, travel comfort accessories and toys. “It’s a key season

“As of January 2, we have been officially taking orders for Victoria Day and Canada Day,” says Matt Bialek, the secondgeneration owner of Manitoba-based BlastOff Fireworks

for many of our clients.”

According to Halim, orders start to arrive in March, as winter gives way to spring and c-store operators in touristy areas take advantage of the many promotions her company offers for summertime merchandise. “It’s big business for us and them,” she says. “On beautiful summer days people don’t want to wait in line for 20 minutes at a box store when they can get what they want in a convenience store in two.”

Ray Leviste agrees. As the owner of Sunrayzz Imports, one of the biggest online B2B wholesalers of imported eyewear in Canada, he says sales of sunglasses pop in May, when his company registers its biggest monthly volume in sales.

“We start getting orders in February, but things really pick up when it starts getting nice outside and people are on the move,” says Leviste, who sells directly online to c-stores and other retailers like pharmacies and gift shops across Canada. “It takes us about a week to ship and we go hard from May until September when sales go down along with the temperature.”

Though fireworks are less weather dependent—thanks to personal and public celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, New Year’s Eve and the Indian festival of Diwali—they too are a must-have item for many c-stores during the summer months.

“As of January 2, we have been officially taking orders for Victoria Day and Canada Day,” says Matt Bialek, the second-generation owner of Manitoba-based Blast-Off Fireworks, a fireworks importer, distributer and educator that supplies more than 4,500 retailers across Canada’s with everything from Roman candles and sound shells to fountains and family packs.

According to Bialek, demand for fireworks is “steady and broad” in both urban areas and cottage country in summer, when large public events and family gatherings generate the lion’s share of industry sales.

“Our collection of family packs, which are almost fireworks displays in a box, are by far our most popular items,” he says. “They are big ticket items with good margins and low risk of theft.”

Anticipate customers’ needs

For his part, Claude Beausoleil, who owns and operates Duggers Variety, a small c-store near the waterfront in the Ontario port town of Midland, 150 kms north of Toronto on Georgian Bay and a major gateway to the world-famous 30,000 Islands, summer begins in March when he starts placing orders for cigarettes and pop.

“I add a few brands like Belmont and Benson & Hedges that people from Toronto smoke, but the locals here don’t,” says Beausoleil, who has run the store, which he is now trying to sell, for 27 years. “And I’ll add a third Crush product and maybe some Brisk or other drinks that I see the tourists like. It's all about experience, knowing what your customers want and planning ahead so you have those items when they come into your store.” CSNC

CCentral.ca 26 March | April 2024 Convenience Store News Canada
Matt and Brandi Bialek






Pioneers the vaping experience, offering a diverse range of top-notch vaping devices and smoke shop essentials. Our curated selection extends beyond just accessories, delving into convenience store items that elevate your lifestyle. With a commitment to quality and innovation, we redefine the standards of vaping, providing enthusiasts with unmatched products. Join us in embracing a seamless fusion of technology and style for a unique journey into the world of vaping. Honeyinnovative.com


is your one-stop-shop for sales and logistics services in Canada. We help fast-moving consumer goods companies get their products onto retailer’s shelves and into the hands of consumers.

Our team is dedicated to ensuring our partners see continued growth in the Canadian market. This allows you to focus on manufacturing products that delight consumers, and letting consumers know about the compelling story behind your brand. Leave the rest to us



BOOTH #548


is thrilled to unveil Peach and Berry Lemonade, available in Canada March 1, 2024.

Guayaki invites you to elevate your state with their meticulously curated blend of flavours, providing an unparalleled taste experience. From the first sip to the last drop, Peach and Berry Lemonade are a symphony of indulgence. With less than 3g of sugar, 20 calories, and 150mg of caffeine, these new flavours invites consumers to explore their low cal, high energy beverages.

canada@guayaki.com guayaki.com


OVER 40 YEARS OF HERITAGE, RUBICON EXOTIC is the No. 1 Exotic Juice Brand in Canada and the UK! Our unique range of exotic juice drinks and organic coconut water are made using only the finest and authentic ingredients from across the world. Visit Booth #478 today for a free sample and talk to our Sales Reps to see how Rubicon Exotic can help increase your sales today!



BOOTH #478


• Most desirable meat snack

• Multiple formats (long and short sticks)

• Exciting flavours

• Shelf-ready

• High in Protein

• No Artificial Flavours

Connect with us today!




Visit us at booth 644 for a sample



Irn-Bru, the original and best soft drink has been brewed in Scotland since 1901 to a secret recipe of 32 flavours. Its unparalleled taste is a true representation of Scottish heritage making it the number one flavoured soda in Scotland. It’s also known as Scotland’s “other national drink”


BOOTH #644

BOOTH #482 BOOTH #513 BOOTH #654
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.