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U.S. C-Store Count Down Again

Convenience retailing industry sees 1.5% drop in total units over last year
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — There are 148,026 convenience stores operating in the United States, a 1.5% decrease in the number of stores from a year earlier, according to the 2022 NACS/NielsenIQ Convenience Industry Store Count, continuing a multiyear decline. Last year’s total was 150,274 c-stores.

The new store count shows that 116,641 c-stores sell motor fuels (78.8% of all c-stores). There were 4,897 fewer stores selling motor fuels compared to the year prior, but a direct comparison is imprecise because the 2022 store count reflects a slight methodology change for c-stores that sell fuel, NACS said.

The U.S. convenience store industry serves 165 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 11% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales.

The industry decline was led by a 3.1% decrease in single-store operators, which still account for 60.4% of all c-stores (89,336 stores). The decline of single-store operators continues a multi-year trend; single-store operators made up a record 63.2% of the industry in 2017. Meanwhile, the percentage of single-store operators that sell fuel dropped to 54.6% in 2021, the lowest since the metric has been tracked in 2005.

The decline in the convenience store count reflects the decline of other retail brick-and-mortar stores except for dollar stores., according to NACS.

CHANNEL

2022

2021

% Change

Convenience

148,026

150,274

-1.5

Grocery

45,687

47,066

-2.9

Drug

40,402

41,000

-1.5

Dollar

35,501

34,215

+3.8

In addition, there are “gas station/kiosk” stores that sell fuel but not enough of an in-store product assortment to be considered convenience stores. Overall, there were 14,826 kiosks in 2021. The kiosk format continued to decline—down 5.2% the past year and 32.9% over the past six years—as more consumers sought out stores that have robust food and beverage offers.

Despite the fourth straight yearly decline in stores, the overall c-store count is approximately the same as a decade ago (148,126 stores in 2012). With the U.S. population at 332.4 million according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there is one c-store per every 2,245 people.

“The new store count reflects ongoing changes that are happening in retail as our industry continues to invest in their operations and redefine convenience,” said NACS Vice Chairman of Research and Technology Chuck Maggelet, who is CEO and “chief adventure guide” of Maverik Inc., Salt Lake City.

“Our industry had record in-store sales in 2020 and was equally optimistic about continuing that sales trend in 2021. These opportunities to attract consumers and grow sales require new technologies and often different footprints that were not possible with many of the legacy stores that closed,” Maggelet said. He added that approximately one in seven Maverik stores were remodeled or improved in 2021 and that the company expects to do the same again this year.

State Rankings

Texas continues to have the most convenience stores (15,742 stores), or more than one in 10 stores in the United States. The remainder of the top 10 is the same from the year prior: California is second at 12,053 stores, followed by Florida (9,400), New York (7,848), Georgia (6,448), North Carolina (5,690), Ohio (5,537), Michigan (4,819), Pennsylvania (4,629) and Illinois (4,623). Texas is the only state in the top 10 that added stores (+47). Meanwhile, New York (-248), Florida (-219) and North Carolina (-200) lost the most stores. Alaska (174) has the fewest stores.

The 2022 NACS/NielsenIQ Convenience Industry Store Count is based on stores in operation as of December 20Co21.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS advances the role of c-stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. Alexandria, Va.-based NACS has 1,900 retailer and 1,800 supplier members from more than 50 countries.

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