SAN FRANCISCO — Sales in convenience stores continued to decline in the second half of March as more cities and states enacted shelter-at-home orders that encouraged consumers not to congregate in groups of 10 or more.
The latest data from data analytics firm Skupos shows some high points (sales of toilet paper) and low points (fuel volume) as the economic battle against the coronavirus pandemic continues across the United States.
"With an 'essential business' status and a stock of critical supplies close to home, convenience retailers have the chance to emerge as key players in this crisis," Skupos said in a recent blog post. "Similarly, there may be an opportunity for convenience retailers to stock their stores with new types of in-demand items that were traditionally offered by nonessential stores that have closed."
The analytics data company will continue to provide updates on the effect of COVID-19 on the industry in the coming weeks. Here are Skupos' insights from the week of March 23 ...
"Convenience stores continue to feel the effects of the stay-at-home orders," according to Skupos. During March, revenue per store decreased by an average of 6.5% and 14.5% per week for in-store purchases and fuel, respectively.
"This is the first time this year that average in-store sales have exceeded fuel sales," Skupos said. "We can attribute this change to falling gas prices and decreased travel as a result of the coronavirus."
Convenience stores saw a massive spike in the sale of Scott’s toilet paper in the days surrounding the national health emergency announcement, with total toilet tissue transactions increasing from about 300 to 1,300 per day on March 13.
"The number of rolls purchased per visit also increased from around two rolls to seven rolls per purchase. Although the number of transactions have slowed over the past couple weeks, the number of rolls purchased per visit has not, indicating that people are still stocking up when inventory is available," Skupos said.
At the pump
As of March 16, national fuel consumption was down an average of 28% from the first week of January. "States with more than 10,000 cases of COVID-19 are seeing the most drastic decreases," Skupos said, with New Jersey, Michigan and California all reporting a 48%-58% decrease in demand for fuel.
"If there is anything we’ve learned, it’s that we’re amidst very unpredictable times," Skupos concluded. "As consumer behavior continues to change, retailers are positioned as a close-to-home, go-to option for essential shopping in their local communities."
San Francisco-based Skupos drives revenue growth and operational efficiency in all segments of the retail industry through the collection of billions of transactions every year. More than 13,000 U.S. customers use Skupos’ platform to provide actionable insights that enable brands, distributors and retailers to increase sales volume and employee productivity.