2017 SOI: Top-Line Industry Trends

After three years of record profits, is the party over?

By 
Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

Illustration by Guy Shield

Profits were down last year by 3.8%. Normally, that kind of news would rattle any business owner.

Not convenience retailers.

For three years running, the c-store channel has experienced record-high profits—a staggering take-home jackpot of more than $10 billion. Put in perspective: Just prior to 2014, surpassing $6 billion was a big deal.

“Look at the trend line,” said Billy Milam, president of Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum. “We shouldn’t be anywhere close to this. We should have been high-fiving each other for being at [$8 billion], not $10 [billion].”

Milam, who has presented the channel’s overall statistics at the NACS State of the Industry (SOI) Summit for the past three years, jokingly took credit for an amazing run that saw profits jump from just less than $7 billion in 2013 to $10.4 billion in 2014 and go even higher to $10.6 billion in 2015.

Last year’s comparative 3.8% dip to $10.2 billion was on its surface a letdown, but anyone knowing the odds would gladly take it.

The big question that remains: Were the past three years an aberration, or the new normal?

Table of Contents

Store Sales Trend Lines

Fuel Business Sputters

Doubling the Quartile Divide

Reshaping How (and Where) Consumers Eat