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Canada Convenience Stores Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Convenience Stores market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

This report covers convenience stores:

  • Convenience stores: small retail shops that sell a selection of items ranging from snacks and drinks to cigarettes, lottery tickets and hot food.
  • Grocery stores: retail shops that primarily sell food (eg Loblaws, Sobeys, No Frills). Often larger in size than a convenience store, they offer more depth and breadth of product selection.
  • Big box stores: retail shops that are large in size and carry a very wide selection of products, ranging from clothes to electronics to groceries to jewellery (eg Walmart, Costco).

What you need to know

The focus of this report will be to investigate what share of consumers currently shopping at convenience stores, the reasons for shopping there vs not doing so and the products they purchase when they are there. As will be shown in this report, convenience stores are used by the majority of consumers, but since their competitive advantage is so specific (ie quick, convenient shopping experience), they are vulnerable to other retail industries that may be able to recreate the same experience with technology.

The findings of this report are based on the results of Mintel’s exclusive research and will help provide clarity on an industry that has established itself as a major piece of the retail market, but which may need guidance on how to keep pace with evolving competitors and consumer demand.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Scott Stewart, a leading analyst in the Technology and Media Analyst sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Convenience stores are a fixture in the Canadian retail market. With easily accessible locations and long business hours, they offer consumers a shopping option that is quick and easy. As retail has evolved in recent years – including grocery stores, big box stores and e-commerce – it is worthwhile to review where convenience stores stand in the overall landscape and what the future might hold for these stores if the current trends continue. Scott Stewart
Senior Technology and Media Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Price and selection are the biggest barriers facing convenience stores
            • Figure 1: Reasons for not visiting convenience stores, November 2018
          • Potential for foodservice sales in convenience stores is limited
            • Figure 2: Purchased or interested in purchasing from a convenience store, shopped vs did not shop, November 2018
          • The convenience store model makes it difficult to upsell customers
            • The opportunities
              • Most consumers shop at convenience stores
                • Figure 3: Convenience store usage, November 2018
              • People see convenience stores as a quick, easy option
                • Figure 4: Reasons for visiting convenience stores, November 2018
              • Younger consumers represent a shift in how convenience stores are used
                • Figure 5: Products purchased at convenience stores, by age, November 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Gas price trends can have an impact on convenience stores
                  • Road trips are on the rise
                    • Cigarette smoking is on a steady decline
                      • Gambling is beginning to shift online
                        • Suburbs are the fastest growing parts of the country
                        • Market Factors

                          • Gas price trends can have an impact on convenience stores
                            • Figure 6: Average retail prices for regular gasoline in Canada, 2015-18
                          • Road trips are on the rise
                            • Figure 7: Road trips within Canada, 2011-17
                          • Cigarette smoking is on a steady decline
                            • Figure 8: Prevalence of cigarette smokers in Canada, 1965-2015
                          • Gambling is beginning to shift online
                            • Suburbs are the fastest growing parts of the country
                            • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                              • Convenience stores are using branded partnerships to drive traffic
                                • Couche-Tard is taking over the convenience store landscape
                                  • Grocery stores are encroaching on the convenience store model
                                    • There is an arms race to make convenience stores even more convenient
                                    • What’s Working?

                                      • Convenience stores are using branded partnerships to drive traffic
                                      • Challenges

                                        • Couche-Tard is taking over the convenience store landscape
                                          • Grocery stores are encroaching on the convenience store model
                                          • What’s Next?

                                            • There is an arms race to make stores even more convenient
                                              • Figure 9: Introducing Amazon Go and the world’s most advanced shopping technology, December 2016
                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                            • Convenience store usage
                                              • Reasons for visiting convenience stores
                                                • Barriers to shopping at convenience stores
                                                  • Purchase behaviour at convenience stores
                                                    • Position of convenience stores in the retail market
                                                      • Opportunity to sell food at convenience stores
                                                      • Convenience Store Usage

                                                        • Most consumers shop at convenience stores
                                                          • Figure 10: Convenience store usage, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 11: Convenience store usage, by gender, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 12: Convenience store usage, by age, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 13: Convenience store usage, by region, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 14: Convenience stores shopped at, by region, November 2018
                                                        • Life situation plays a considerable role in convenience store usage
                                                          • Figure 15: Convenience store usage, by kids at home, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 16: Convenience store usage, by living area, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 17: Convenience stores shopped at, by living area, November 2018
                                                      • Reasons for Visiting Convenience Stores

                                                        • Most convenience store consumers want to get in and out quickly
                                                          • Figure 18: Reasons for visiting convenience stores, November 2018
                                                        • Gas fill-ups are key traffic drivers for convenience stores
                                                          • Figure 19: Visit convenience stores after getting gas, by living area, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 20: Visit convenience stores after getting gas, by income, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 21: Visit convenience stores after getting gas, by gender and kids at home, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 22: Products purchased at convenience store, by reason for visit, November 2018
                                                        • Many consumers are walking to convenience stores
                                                          • Figure 23: Visit convenience stores within walking distance, by age, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 24: Visit convenience stores within walking distance, by living area, November 2018
                                                          • Figure 25: Visit convenience stores within walking distance, by income, November 2018
                                                        • Lack of other options drives some consumers to convenience stores
                                                          • Figure 26: Visit convenience stores when only store available, by age and gender, November 2018
                                                      • Barriers to Shopping at Convenience Stores

                                                        • Many consumers believe they can find better prices elsewhere
                                                          • Figure 27: Reasons for not visiting convenience stores, November 2018
                                                        • A lack of products is a barrier to shopping at convenience stores
                                                        • Purchase Behaviour at Convenience Stores

                                                          • Snacks and treats are the most commonly purchased products
                                                            • Figure 28: Products purchased at convenience store, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 29: Products purchased at convenience store, by age, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 30: Products purchased at convenience store, by region, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 31: Products purchased at convenience store, by kids in household, November 2018
                                                          • Lottery tickets are important to convenience stores, but are at risk
                                                            • Figure 32: Purchase lottery tickets at convenience store, by age, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 33: Purchase lottery tickets at convenience store, by region, November 2018
                                                          • Milk is the leading grocery-type purchase at convenience stores
                                                            • Figure 34: Purchase milk at convenience store, by region, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 35: Purchase milk at convenience store, by household income, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 36: Purchase milk at convenience store, by kids in household and gender, November 2018
                                                          • Foodservice purchases at convenience stores skew to young men
                                                            • Figure 37: Purchase ready-to-eat/made-to-order food at convenience store, by age and gender, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 38: Purchase ready-to-eat/made-to-order food at convenience store, Asian Canadians vs overall, November 2018
                                                            • Figure 39: Purchase ready-to-eat/made-to-order food at convenience store, by region, November 2018
                                                        • Position of Convenience Stores in the Retail Market

                                                          • More than half of consumers don’t browse at convenience stores
                                                            • Many consumers see convenience stores as a last option
                                                              • Figure 40: Only visit convenience stores when it’s the only option, by age, November 2018
                                                              • Figure 41: Only visit convenience stores when it’s the only option, by gender, November 2018
                                                              • Figure 42: Only visit convenience stores when it’s the only option, by living area, November 2018
                                                            • Grocery stores pose a growing threat to convenience stores
                                                              • Figure 43: Self-checkout at grocery stores makes paying as quick as c-stores, by age, November 2018
                                                              • Figure 44: Self-checkout at grocery stores makes paying as quick as c-stores, by kids at home, November 2018
                                                            • Lottery ticket and cigarette consumers are focused on those products
                                                            • Opportunity to Sell Food at Convenience Stores

                                                              • Fresh snacks are an opportunity to drive traffic and sales
                                                                • Figure 45: Purchased or interested in purchasing from a convenience store, shopped vs did not shop, November 2018
                                                                • Figure 46: Never purchased from convenience store but interested, shopped vs did not shop, November 2018
                                                                • Figure 47: Never purchased fresh snacks from convenience store but interested, by age and gender, November 2018
                                                              • Most food offerings would only resonate with current consumers
                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                • Data sources
                                                                  • Consumer survey data
                                                                    • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                      • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                          • Terms