How to Expand Lunchtime Sales: Highlighting Top Consumer Demands

Coffee station
Photograph: Shutterstock

Lunchtime foodservice sales are an essential part of many convenience stores’ daily profits. Restoring lunch occasions to pre-pandemic volumes is a crucial priority on the road to recovery—and key strategies can help set retailers up for success.

According to Technomic’s Q2 2021 C-Store Consumer Marketbrief, lunch is the second biggest daypart for c-store sales, following snacking occasions. Lunchtime shoppers prioritize speed and convenience, and for those seeking a quick bite while out and about, the c-store is more than equipped to deliver.

The pandemic changed consumers’ daily schedules, however, with many shifting to at-home work and remote schooling, and c-store lunch sales took a hit as a result. While 63% of c-store shoppers say they’ve either maintained or increased lunch patronage at the c-store since the pandemic, 37% say they’re visiting less often than before. This shift has left retailers searching for strategies to recoup lost sales and compete for loyal customers amid the recovering market.

While overall c-store lunch sales have yet to be restored to their former glory, retailers can accelerate and sustain growth by keeping a keen eye on consumers’ top priorities. Technomic’s Q2 2021 Marketbrief identifies the top three changes that consumers say would increase their frequency of lunchtime visits to the c-store:

1. Lower prices

Consumers’ top priority—getting good value when they shop—is evergreen. Retailers’ need to keep prices low and margins high is as pressing as ever—and as challenging as ever, too.

Cost reduction is a crucial focus for c-stores looking to simultaneously boost profits while enticing shoppers with competitive prices. Optimizing the lunch menu and streamlining kitchen operations is vital for minimizing costs while maximizing quality—lower labor menu items, for instance, mean lower overhead, which can in turn translate to lower costs for the consumer.

2. Improved safety protocols

The pandemic undoubtedly brought health and safety concerns to the forefront for consumers and retailers alike. However, for c-store shoppers, the focus is no longer limited to the front of house. Consumers’ trust is invaluable, and keeping food prep areas pristine is the way to earn it.

Implementing rigorous standards for cleanliness without increasing labor is key, and seeking ways to optimize back-of-house maintenance can not only support a spotless operation, but also help keep labor costs low.

3. Higher-quality offerings

As retailers raise the bar in terms of foodservice quality, shoppers raise their standards, too, making the lunchtime landscape highly competitive. Offering top-quality lunch options is a balancing act, however, as keeping costs and labor low is a continuing priority.

In today’s retail setting, c-store retailers need time- and labor-saving solutions in order to thrive amid the recovering market. Automating and outsourcing oil management with services from Restaurant Technologies, for example, can make a world of difference in terms of reducing labor inefficiencies, increasing cleanliness and improving food quality.

Restaurant Technologies’ Total Oil Management services take care of fryer oil in its entirety—from ordering and delivering fresh cooking oil to storing, handling and recycling used oil. Restaurant Technologies also offers Grease Lock hood and flue filtration that captures up to 98% of airborne grease. Each Restaurant Technologies solution addresses some of the most time- and labor-intensive aspects of c-store kitchen maintenance while supporting high standards for quality and cleanliness.

To learn more about how Restaurant Technologies’ solutions can support lunchtime success for c-stores—both now and in the future—visit

This post is sponsored by Restaurant Technologies

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