The cost of food is what 87% of retailers are expecting to be the most challenging business issue in the coming year, up from second last year and a full 10 percentage points higher than last year’s top issue: the labor pool, which dropped to third. Government regulation, meanwhile, had the largest percentage drop, from 66% last year to 57%, indicating retailers’ concerns with more immediate issues.

There were also several shifts among foodservice segments that suffered the most during the pandemic. Retailers said roller grill suffered the most last year, at 25%, but that fell to third this year, while fountain beverages are No. 1 at 23% after placing fourth last year at 14%.

Swipe fees jumped to the top of the list among legislative/regulatory concerns for retailers, up from third last year. Minimum wage fell from first to second, while concerns over legislation on paid leave, overtime and scheduling, and foodservice safety jumped significantly.

Winsight’s 2022 State of C-Store Foodservice survey was conducted online from Feb. 28 to March 22. Of the more than 170 responses from retailers, 84% have 50 or fewer locations, 4% have more than 500. Regarding foodservice, 82% offer packaged foods, 75% make food on-site, 58% carry supplier-prepared foods and 22% have foods prepared in a chain-owned commissary.