‘Where’s My Top 202?’

We’ve tackled what’s consistently been the No. 1 concern for convenience retailers year over year: labor

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

It’s January, and surely you’ve all been eagerly awaiting CSP’s annual Top 202 list of the biggest c-store chains. So where is it?

We’re still producing the Top 202, but we’re moving it to our June issue.

Why? In a word, quality.

We first partnered with our sister company Technomic on our Top 202 in 2017. It was a big jump toward making what was already a product we were proud of even better. Technomic is a research company, and its best practices around data gathering bring a whole new level of quality to the process of producing the Top 202.

When we wrapped up last year’s 202, we asked ourselves, “How can we make it even better?” One big answer was to align it with Technomic’s data-gathering cycle. Launching the Top 202 in January each year meant we needed to finalize all store counts by Thanksgiving, but year-end counts would be far more useful to readers. Therefore, we’ve shifted our data-gathering time frame to after the new year. This is particularly useful for capturing year-end numbers from publicly held companies.

So where can you go between now and June for accurate store counts? Well, that gap is in part why we updated the list’s top 40 in the November 2017 issue of CSP. Our Top 202 landing page—cspdailynews.com/top202—still exists, with all the data of the most recent list, and it will continue to until we launch the 2018 list. But you can also access an updated top 40 on the Top 202 landing page, or at cspdailynews.com/yearend40.

For more immediate updates on openings and closings in the industry, make sure you’re getting our monthly Convenience Store Roundup. Not receiving it? Shoot me a note.

New Year, New Project

Frankly, I’m more excited about what we’re doing this month in the Top 202’s place. We’ve tackled what’s consistently been the No. 1 concern for convenience retailers year over year: labor. In our most recent annual Outlook Survey, retailers told us their No. 1 biggest business challenge is turnover; wages came in at No. 4. When asked what will most affect business in 2018, the labor market was the top response, followed by wages.

It’s a tale as old as time—or at least the past few years.

So we partnered with Technomic to take a real, data-driven look not only at what retailers are doing related to winning the war for talent, but also how consumers are making job-hunting decisions.

The takeaways are numerous. Most notably, as you see from the cover and the story’s opening spread on p. 28, is that we have a serious perception problem among job hunters who don’t have any personal experience in the industry. It reminds me of our reputation hurdles related to foodservice: Ask a consumer if they’d eat a meal at a convenience store and they’d likely say, “No way.” Ask that same consumer if they’d eat a meal at a Wawa, QuikTrip or Stripes, and they’d say, “Heck, yes.”

In exploring the Technomic Winning the War for Talent Report, our editors Alaina Lancaster and Abbey Lewis uncovered some great ideas and experiences from best-in-class retailers. And Mitch Morrison augments the article on p. 36 with insights he has gleaned from the experience of developing the study with Donna Hood Crecca, associate principal for Technomic.

Here’s my take on winning the war for talent: It’s no different than winning the war for customers. In fact, your customers are potential team members, and vice versa. We need to be putting as much diligence toward attracting the best people for behind the counter as we do enticing people on the shopper side. How will you create a company culture, a brand and a store experience that customers and employees alike will love?

Abbie Westra is director of Winsight’s Retail Content Group. Reach her at [email protected].