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C-Stores Report a Record Year of In-Store Sales in 2022

Inflation boosts dollar totals as commuting and shopper behaviors return: NACS
counting money
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NACS reported another record year of inside sales in convenience stores, growing 9.0% in 2022. The news, first reported by NACS Daily, comes from NACS' annual State of the Industry Summit being held in Dallas.

"As traditional commuting and shopping behaviors continue to return to pre-pandemic levels, convenience stores saw record sales inside their stores, according to newly released NACS State of the Industry data for 2022," the association reported today.

Total convenience industry sales were $906.1 billion, NACS reported, of which $302.8 billion were from in-store sales, which accounted for 33.4% of industry sales. In 2021, in-store sales reached $277.9 billion.

Packaged beverages, other tobacco products, salty snacks, candy and packaged sweet snacks all had double-digit sales growth year over year. The average basket—what customers spend per visit—increased 4.9% to $7.52.

Convenience stores, which sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the country, saw fuel sales increase 41.2% reaching $603.2 billion, largely as a result of higher gas prices, which increased 33.7% to $4.04, on average, in 2022. Fuel volumes for the industry in 2022 remained relatively flat, up only 0.7%.

Driving Sales

The strong in-store sales came as the result of a variety of factors, according to NACS.

  • First, the convenience industry store count increased 1.5% to reach 150,174 stores. Industry growth was fueled by an increase in single-store operators, which increased 1,087 to 90,423 stores (60.2% of all convenience stores).
  • Second, inflationary pressures pushed prices higher in 2022; the annual merchandise CPI increased 7.9% and the foodservice CPI increased 9.7% last year.
  • The third factor increasing in-store sales was the continued growth of foodservice and industry operators continued focus on providing restaurant-quality food. Overall, average foodservice sales represented 25.6% of average, monthly in-store sales and 36.1% of in-store gross margin. Convenience-store foodservice includes prepared food, commissary, and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages. Prepared food accounted for 67.3% of all foodservice sales in 2022, while commissary contributed 9.5%, followed by hot dispensed beverages at 9.2%, cold dispensed at 8.0% and frozen dispensed at 6.0%.

At an industry level, convenience-store transactions increased 8.5% in 2022, following an 8.8% increase in 2021 as the country emerged from the economic slowdown related to the pandemic. The two-year positive in-store transaction growth trend reverses a pre-pandemic five-year trend of declining performance.

Operating Costs

Despite positive sales growth, direct store operating expenses (DSOE) climbed, putting pressure on retailers, NACS reported. Credit-card swipe fees at an industry level have increased 82% between 2020 and 2022 and now stand at $19.5 billion.

Labor costs also increased in 2022. Average wages increased 9.1% for full-time and 12.6% for part-time employees to $14.33 per hour and $14.02 per hour, respectively. The convenience-store industry provided 2.44 million jobs across the United States in 2022.

Overall, the industry paid or collected $207 billion in taxes, or 22.8% of all sales dollars at convenience stores in 2022. On a per-store basis, taxes collected averaged $1.4 million. It’s estimated that stores also paid $4.3 billion in swipe fees on these taxes collected for the local, state and federal governments.

Complete analysis of NACS' industry data and trends will be available in the State of the Industry Report of 2022 Data, which will be released in June.

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