Putting the 'Christmas' Into 'C'-Store

Consumers to increase their holiday shopping at convenience stores

Convenience store Christmas

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Harried consumers seeking to complete their holiday shopping say that they will rely more on convenience stores this year for quick snacks, stocking stuffers, party items and cash from ATMs, according to a consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

One in three consumers say that they plan to buy snacks and other food items from c-stores more often (32%) and that they plan to buy coffee and other beverages from c-stores more often (31%) while shopping this holiday season.

Younger consumers, those 18 to 34, are most likely to grab a quick snack or beverage at c-stores, with a majority expecting to buy snacks (52%) or drinks (51%) more often at c-stores while shopping this holiday season.

"Convenience stores sell 80% of the gas purchased in the country, and we are increasingly seeing customers filling up at the pump and then grabbing a quick snack or drink inside to save time and avoid additional stops, especially with the compressed holiday shopping season this year," said NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives Jeff Lenard.

Snackers will see an impressive array of healthy choices in stores over the holidays, with 98% of c-stores selling health bars, 96% selling nuts or trail mix, 72% selling fresh fruit or vegetables and 67% selling yogurt, according to a December 2013 NACS retailer survey.

Retailers also say that they have significantly expanded their healthy choice selections in 2013, with 49% adding or expanding their health bar selection and 39% adding or expanding their fresh fruit and vegetable selection. Water is also popular, with 67% of retailers stocking more nutraceuticals/enhanced waters and 61% stocking more bottled waters.

In addition to purchasing quick snacks and drinks as part of their holiday shopping excursions, consumers say that they will be increasingly using c-stores to purchase holiday gifts or related items. More than one in five consumers say that when it comes to making purchases at c-stores, they will be buying more gift cards more often (23%), small presents or stocking stuffers more often (21%) and more small items like tape and batteries more often (22%). Younger consumers are most likely to purchase these items at c-stores: more than one in three of those 18 to 34 say that they will be buying gifts cards (38%), small presents (38%) and small items like tape and batteries (37%) at c-stores more often this holiday season.