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US 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 and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

For the purposes of this Report, Mintel defines convenience stores as establishments that retail a limited line of goods, primarily groceries and ready-to-consume beverages and snacks, in easily accessible locations. The majority of convenience stores also sell motor fuel.

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), common characteristics of convenience stores include:

  • Building size of less than 5,000 square feet
  • Stock of at least 500 stock-keeping units (SKUs)
  • Off-street parking and/or convenient pedestrian access
  • Extended hours of operation with many open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Note: This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Convenience Stores – US, March 2016 and 2014. While it will discuss convenience store foodservice, this will not be a central area of focus. Mintel’s Convenience Store Foodservice – US, March 2018 is an important companion to this Report that focuses specifically on c-store foodservice.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Smith, a leading analyst in the Retail & Apparel sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Faced with declines in motor fuel rates, cigarette smokers, and carbonated soda drinkers in recent years, the convenience store (c-store) industry is in a state of change as it looks toward other product areas and innovations to drive sales. Leading retailers in the industry are focused first and foremost on adding healthier food and beverage items to their assortments. Beyond that, big advancements in the coming year and beyond are likely to include home delivery, scan and go checkout options, mobile payment, and improved loyalty programs that better leverage customer data, analytics, and technology. Diana Smith
Associate Director - Retail & Apparel

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • Channel back on a path of growth, but faces some threats
              • Figure 1: Total US convenience store revenues and fan chart forecast, at current prices, 2012-22
            • Competitive pressure mounts
              • Figure 2: Reasons for choosing c-store over other store type, January 2018
            • Falling short on product assortment and price
              • Figure 3: Reasons for not visiting a c-store, January 2018
            • The opportunities
              • Protect the customer base
                • Figure 4: C-store visitation – at least weekly, by gender and age, race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
                • Figure 5: Attitudes toward c-stores, by gender and age and race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
              • Redefine convenience through use of digital and technology
                • Figure 6: Behaviors and interest areas related to digital and technology, by generation, January 2018
              • Focus on foodservice
                • Figure 7: Attitudes related to c-store food assortments, by gender and age, race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • Time for a reset
                  • Volatile fuel prices and less smokers serve as threats
                    • Other retail channels compete on convenience
                    • Market Size and Forecast

                      • Declining motor fuel prices put a dent in sales revenue, but sector set to rebound
                        • Figure 8: Total US convenience store revenues and fan chart forecast, at current prices, 2012-22
                        • Figure 9: Total US convenience store revenues and forecast, at current prices, 2012-22
                    • Market Breakdown

                      • Despite declines, motor fuel sales comprise majority of total
                        • Figure 10: Total US convenience store revenues and forecast, by segment, at current prices, 2012-17
                        • Figure 11: Total US convenience store revenues, by segment, at current prices, 2015 and 2017
                      • Tobacco products comprise over a third of total in-store sales
                        • Figure 12: Distribution of in-store convenience store sales, by category, 2016
                        • Figure 13: Distribution of total convenience store sales, by category, 2016
                    • Market Perspective

                      • Redefining convenience in today’s retail landscape
                        • Figure 14: Reasons for choosing c-store over other store type, January 2018
                        • Figure 15: Attitudes toward online delivery services, by generation, January 2018
                    • Market Factors

                      • Motor fuel prices remain low, but start to climb once again
                        • Figure 16: US motor fuel gasoline and diesel retail prices, 2007 - 2017
                      • Road trips on the rise
                        • Figure 17: Annual vehicle-distance traveled (billion miles), moving 12-month total on all roads, 2007 – November 2017
                      • Fuel-efficient cars a consideration, but not a major threat at this time
                        • Population shifts younger, more diverse
                          • Figure 18: Population by generation, 2018
                          • Figure 19: Generations, by race and Hispanic origin, 2018
                          • Figure 20: Any c-store visitation (net), by generation and race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
                        • Stable economy leading to increased spending
                          • Figure 21: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2007-17
                        • Not as many smokers means not as many tobacco sales
                          • Figure 22: Current cigarette smoking among US adults, 2016
                      • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                        • Consumer desire for healthier items drives product selection
                          • C-stores need to “speed up” their own omnichannel efforts
                            • Consolidation on the horizon
                              • Loyalty programs get a facelift
                              • What’s Working?

                                • Better-for-you product assortments grab more shelf space
                                  • Figure 23: NACS show: New Hillshire snacking products, October 2017
                                  • Figure 24: NACS show: Powerful oatmeal, October 2017
                                  • Figure 25: NACS show: Organic Valley Good to Go hard-boiled eggs, October 2017
                                  • Figure 26: NACS show: Dasani sparkling fountain dispenser, October 2017
                                • Snacks get saltier and spicier
                                  • Figure 27: NACS show: Sunny Sky Jolly Rancher slushies, October 2017
                                  • Figure 28: NACS show: N.B.T.F. Fruit Jerky, October 2017
                                • Whose customers are the most satisfied?
                                • What’s Struggling?

                                  • Some retailers seeing in-store sales softness
                                    • Adjusting to digital tools and e-commerce
                                    • What’s Next?

                                      • Is the c-store industry on a course of consolidation?
                                        • Experimentation with new kiosks and store formats
                                          • Kiosks
                                            • Store formats
                                              • Becoming more data-oriented
                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                • Gas station-based c-stores have an advantage
                                                  • Young men, Hispanics, and Black consumers make up core customer base
                                                    • C-stores should look to improve quality perceptions
                                                      • C-stores seen by some as expensive and not viable choice for groceries
                                                        • C-stores have some catching up to do to truly be omnichannel
                                                        • C-store Visitation

                                                          • Opportunity to increase frequency of visitation
                                                            • Figure 29: Shopping frequency, January 2018
                                                            • Figure 30: Shopping frequency, by select demographics, January 2018
                                                            • Figure 31: Shopping frequency, by marital and parental status, January 2018
                                                          • C-stores with gas stations see highest visitation overall
                                                            • Figure 32: Types of c-stores visited, January 2018
                                                          • C-stores without gas stations may see more frequent visitors
                                                            • Figure 33: Shopping frequency, by types of c-stores, January 2018
                                                        • Factors Influencing Retailer Choice

                                                          • Location, price, convenience key selling points
                                                            • Figure 34: Factors that influence c-store preference, January 2018
                                                          • Men are looking for more quality
                                                            • Figure 35: Factors that influence c-store preference, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                          • Store environment matters too
                                                            • Figure 36: Factors that influence c-store preference, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
                                                          • What does “quality” mean anyway?
                                                            • Figure 37: C-store foodservice quality indicators, December 2016
                                                          • It all comes back to price
                                                          • Reasons for Visiting

                                                            • Non-food items represent an opportunity area
                                                              • Figure 38: Reasons for visiting, January 2018
                                                            • Promote foodservice to appeal to Millennials and iGens
                                                              • Figure 39: Reasons for visiting, by generation, January 2018
                                                            • Expanded food and beverage assortments have upside potential
                                                              • Figure 40: Types of food/beverages purchased, January 2018
                                                          • Reasons for Not Visiting

                                                            • No reason to go
                                                              • Figure 41: Reasons for not visiting a c-store, January 2018
                                                            • Price is much more of a barrier for older consumers
                                                              • Figure 42: Reasons for not visiting a c-store, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                          • Marketing Influencers

                                                            • Marketing reportedly goes unnoticed by nearly half of shoppers
                                                                • Figure 43: Marketing influencers, January 2018
                                                              • In-store promotions and social media key to appeal to core customers
                                                                • Figure 44: Marketing influencers, by age, January 2018
                                                              • Hispanics lean in to marketing
                                                                • Figure 45: Marketing influencers, by Hispanic origin, January 2018
                                                            • Attitudes and Behaviors

                                                              • Price over promotion
                                                                • Figure 46: Attitudes toward price, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                              • Consumers view store brands positively
                                                                • Figure 47: Attitudes toward store brands, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                              • High interest in stores that specialize in healthy foods
                                                                • Figure 48: Attitudes toward healthy foods, by gender and age and parental status, January 2018
                                                              • Mobile apps preferred over websites
                                                                • Figure 49: Shopping behaviors, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                              • Loyal to wherever it’s most convenient
                                                                • Figure 50: Attitudes related to loyalty, by gender and age, January 2018
                                                            • Desired Improvements

                                                              • Expanded food and beverage offerings could yield sales upside
                                                                • Figure 51: Desired improvements, by gender and age, January 2018 – Part one
                                                                • Figure 52: Desired improvements, by gender and age, January 2018 – Part two
                                                              • Hispanics express interest in all improvement areas
                                                                • Figure 53: Desired improvements, by race and Hispanic origin, January 2018
                                                              • TURF analysis reveals many opportunities to maximize reach
                                                                • Figure 54: TURF Analysis – Desired improvements, January 2018
                                                            • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                              • Data sources
                                                                • Sales data
                                                                  • Fan chart forecast
                                                                    • Consumer survey data
                                                                      • TURF methodology
                                                                        • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                          • Abbreviations
                                                                          • Appendix – The Market

                                                                              • Figure 55: Total US convenience store revenues and forecast, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2012-22
                                                                              • Figure 56: Distribution of in-store convenience store sales, by category, 2014 and 2016
                                                                              • Figure 57: Population by generation, 2013-23
                                                                              • Figure 58: Prevalence of obesity among US adults aged 20 and over, 1997-2017*
                                                                          • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                                              • Figure 59: Table - TURF Analysis – Desired improvements, January 2018
                                                                              • Figure 60: Domestic travel transportation in the last 12 months, by parental status, 2017
                                                                            • C-store types