Today’s tight labor market is one of the top challenges convenience store retailers face, especially as sales rebound and as consumers resume their pre-pandemic routines.
This environment calls for labor-saving efficiencies that help retailers retain their sales growth opportunities, particularly in the fast-growing prepared-foods department.
A recent survey by NACS found that convenience store retailers are bullish about their sales for 2021, with 74% saying they expect in-store sales to exceed 2020 results, and 67% saying sales will be better than 2019. Their optimism is driven in part by breakfast and lunch daypart visits, with 53% of retailers saying morning visits have increased compared to 2019, and 47% saying that lunchtime visits have increased.
This outlook is tempered, however, by the fact that 75% of retailers are concerned about the current labor market and finding qualified candidates, the survey found.
Convenience store retailers can solve these challenges with high-quality, prepared grab-and-go foodservice solutions that meet the all-day dining demands of today’s consumers, such as hot and cold sandwiches from E.A. Sween’s Deli Express line. Known for their high-quality ingredients, hand-crafted assembly, custom-made breads and eye-catching packaging, these items drive sales and traffic across dayparts.
Hot breakfast sandwiches, which feature real eggs, are available in a wide variety that can accommodate a range of consumer taste preferences, from the basic Sausage Biscuit to the Mega Omelet Sandwich, along with several others on carriers that include bagels, croissants and English muffins.
Other hot and cold Deli Express sandwiches for any time of day offer similar variety, including Classics such as burgers, Sub Sandwiches and Wedge Sandwiches on sliced breads.
Prepared, grab-and go solutions such as these allow retailers to reap the incremental sales and traffic that strong foodservice programs provide, and at the same time keep labor requirements to a minimum.
Those considerations will be essential for convenience retailers going forward, as they compete against other retailers and restaurant operators for workers in a labor market that is expected to remain challenging.
The recently released Crisis on the Front Lines study from Technomic concluded that the labor crunch is not a temporary phenomenon, and requires new ways of thinking about foodservice operations. The report found that many former foodservice workers who left the industry are now in more traditional career-oriented jobs, such as office positions and education.
“Foodservice operators are facing new challenges in connecting with job-seekers while also keeping up with rising consumer demand,” said Melissa Wilson, an advisor at Technomic. “The employment value proposition has changed as a result of the pandemic.”
Convenience store retailers in turn will not only need to revamp their strategies for recruiting and retaining workers, but they will also need to implement operational efficiencies that allow them to drive more sales with less labor. Prepared grab-and-go foods from E.A. Sween, including the Deli Express sandwich line, offer an efficient solution that meets consumer demands for convenience and quality.
Visit E.A. Sween to learn more about how to optimize convenience-store foodservice operations with high-quality, grab-and-go prepared foods.
This post is sponsored by E.A. Sween