ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Convenience-store retailers are boosting their cleanliness standards, operations and community support during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new survey from NACS.
The association conducted the survey in late June and early July. It surveyed 77 member companies representing a total of 2,796 stores.
Here are four insights from the survey …
Most (89%) convenience-store operators have installed plexiglass barriers at checkout, while 87% have provided hand sanitizer inside the store, according to the survey. Additionally, nearly a quarter (24%) of operators have offered hand sanitizer at the gas pumps.
“Customers really appreciate observing our associates cleaning, continually wiping down high-touch points in the store and keeping our fueling dispensers clean and in tip-top shape,” Dennis McCartney, director of operations for Landhope Farms, a three-store chain based in Kennett Square, Pa., told NACS. “I think the pandemic has really made it necessary for convenience stores to enhance a ‘culture of cleanliness’ throughout the property, both inside and at the pump. This will continue to be an important issue and an important continuing aspect to our everyday business.”
Rainbo Oil Co., Dubuque, Iowa, owner of five Kwik Stop convenience stores, is focusing on safety by ensuring adequate supply of protective gear and cleaning supplies throughout the pandemic, the company told NACS.
Since being deemed essential businesses, nearly all (98%) of c-store operators said their stores have remained open during the pandemic, according to the survey. Beyond that, nearly two-thirds (64%) have kept the same hours of operation, while 35% have reduced their hours.
Many retailers have launched new procedures and operations to keep business running during the pandemic. Forty percent of c-store operators said that they have introduced or increased contactless payment options inside stores, and 62% said fewer customers are paying by cash, according to the survey. Moreover, a third (33%) have either introduced or expanded curbside pickup, 29% have launched drive-thru ordering and 21% have increased delivery capabilities.
High’s Dairy Stores, Baltimore, is expanding its frictionless payment program and curbside pickup and delivery options, the company told NACS. Additionally, Marshall Dujka, owner of Timewise Food Stores, Houston, said that he will continue to explore how to better anticipate new customer buying habits and behaviors.
Nearly two-thirds of c-store operators (63%) said they are supporting healthcare personnel, first responders and others affected by the pandemic, according to the survey.
“We’re looking forward to bringing the community back together,” Edwin Piper, general manager for independent operator Willits General Store, Basalt, Colo., told NACS.