C-Store Purchase Penetration Rebounds in Third Quarter

But visit frequency declines slightly, says NPD

c-store customer

CHICAGO -- Less volatile gasoline prices, along with discount, rewards and loyalty retailer programs, attributed to a rebound in convenience store penetration in the quarter ending Sept. 2013, reported The NPD Group. The percentage of individuals who made a c-store purchase (includes gasoline and product purchases) in an average 30-day period in the quarter increased to 55.5% compared to 54% in the same quarter year ago, according to NPD c-store research.

Major oils, traditionals and small/independent c-store chains experienced penetration growth, NPD reported in its Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of approximately 50,000 c-store shoppers in the United States.

Along with penetration, both c-store traffic and reach grew in the third quarter this year compared to same quarter last year. Total product purchase visits to c-stores in a 30-day period were up 1% in the third quarter compared to same quarter year ago, finds NPD.

Though penetration increased in the quarter, average number of visits individuals made to a c-store in an average 30-day period was 5.3, a decline from 5.4 in third-quarter 2012, according to NPD. In addition to visit declines, heavy discounting and product dealing contributed to an average check decrease in the quarter, which resulted in a decrease in total product sales in the period. The discounts and promotions did, however, resonate with shoppers, boosting impulse buying significantly quarter over quarter.

"The slow economic rebound still has consumers hesitant to spend but they are responding to dealing," said April Moffa, NPD c-store industry analyst. "Opportunities exist to grow product purchases through increased impulse buying. Targeting key demographics, product offerings and strategic in store placement are key to this growth."

The NPD Group, Chicago, provides global information and advisory services to the automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food and foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supply, sports, technology, toy and video game sectors.