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7-Eleven Seizes Opportunity in Urban Philadelphia

As Wawa store footprint grows, Dallas retailer fills in the gaps

PHILADELPHIA -- As Wawa finds success with its large-format convenience stores, 7-Eleven has slowly become an unavoidable presence in the Philadelphia market as it fills in smaller, urban sites, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“7-Elevens have become so ubiquitous in Philadelphia that the opening of another one goes almost unnoticed,” the newspaper wrote.

Read more about 7-Eleven’s recent nationwide growth in the January issue of CSP Magazine.

While hometown chain Wawa spent much of the 2000s closing its smaller city stores and expanding in the suburbs, 7-Eleven has eyed these urban areas.

Wawa has six stores in Center City (40 citywide), with suburban locations better suited to its gas-station business and hungry grab-and-go customers craving freshly made grub. "Our unique product line requires more square footage, as well as the additional exterior space needed to accommodate fuel at new stores," Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, Dallas-based 7-Eleven has slimmed its footprint and tailored its offerings to go after the city crowd, the newspaper reported. The chain has 54 stores in Philadelphia, with 10 in Center City, another two under construction and five more planned to open in 2013.

That market saturation is intentional, a company spokeswoman said. "The walk-up stores in the inner-city can be quite successful," Margaret Chabris told the newspaper.

Demographic trends helped spur that c-store boom, according to Paul Levy of the Center City District. With more hotels and growth in both the residential and office-worker populations, Center City keeps the cash registers at convenience stores busy, Levy told the newspaper. Including drug stores that sell convenience items and snacks, Center City has about 50 convenience stores, he added.

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