Energy has been one of the hardest-hit packaged-beverage segments amid the pandemic for Des Moines, Iowa-based Kum & Go and its nearly 400 c-stores, Overmohle says.

About 25% of energy-drink sales typically come from the routine morning customer, whose schedule has been disrupted by the pandemic. Red Bull, Kum & Go’s most established brand in the space, has had a record year, though, and Nutrabolt’s C4 has also done well as consumers look for functional energy brands, she says.

Energy drinks are up about 3% year over year in c-stores, Levin says, but typically they see 10% growth in the channel. Consumers are still buying energy drinks, he says, but they’re shifting to less-traditional channels to buy them.

In Packaged Facts’ annual U.S. Beverage Market Outlook report, which looks at all retail distribution channels, the Rockville, Md.-based market research company said total energy drinks have declined amid the pandemic since the majority of sales come from convenience stores, “which have been greatly impacted by reduced traffic, especially in stores attached to gas stations.”

At Carmi, Ill.-based Huck’s 124 c-stores in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, however, it’s a diff erent story. Category manager Katie Davis says while Huck’s traffic slowed amid the pandemic, launching delivery through third-party apps like Grubhub and DoorDash helped make up for the decrease in morning commuters. And some online ordering tickets only have energy drinks on them, she says.

“I think people needed energy more than ever with working from home and trying to be the teacher to their kids at the same time,” Davis says. “Personally, I was completely exhausted. I couldn’t do my job and teach a fourth-grade student at the same time.”