ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Convenience-store operators are optimistic that sales will heat up this summer, led by continuing growth of food, beverage and healthier snacking options at their stores, according to a NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey.
More than three in four (77%) convenience retailers expect in-store sales to increase this summer compared to last year, and nearly half (46%) expect their fuel sales to increase, the Alexandria, Va.-based trade association found. Meanwhile, only 2% of retailers expect in-store sales to decline and only 9% expect to see a decline in fuel sales this summer. Convenience stores sell nearly 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States.
Convenience rates high among retailers who say they expect sales to grow this summer: Seventy-three percent cited their convenient location and 64% cited one-stop shopping for food, fuel and restrooms as a reason they expect sales to grow.
Retailers say fresh food and healthy options will be central to growing sales during the summer months: Fifty-six percent of retailers said sandwiches and meals will drive sales growth and 35% cited healthy packaged snacks.
Beverages will also play a part. Sixty-one percent of retailers expect an increase in energy-drink sales, 49% expect an increase in bottled-water sales and 48% expect an increase in beer sales.
Earlier this month, NACS announced that c-store sales increased 9.3% in 2017 to $601.1 billion.
Retailers also are optimistic on a broader economic level. About three in four retailers are optimistic about the economy (74%) and the c-store industry in particular (77%). Retailers are even more positive about their own business, with 83% saying they are optimistic about their business prospects in the second quarter of 2018, a 10-point increase from a year ago.
The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey tracks retailer sentiment related to their businesses, the industry and the economy as a whole. A total of 77 member companies, representing a cumulative 1,917 stores, participated in the April 2018 survey.
NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.