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C-Stores Upping the Ante for Food, Beverage and Meal Solutions

New whitepaper from spotlights high-growth chains amid changing consumer habits
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Casey’s Expands Private Brand Assortment This Month
In addition to its famous pizza, Casey's offers a line of store brand products, reflecting the growing appeal of c-stores as destinations.

While shoppers are still popping into convenience stores for the sake of, well, convenience, many of these retail locations are becoming planned destinations. That’s a key takeaway from a new white paper published by location intelligence and foot traffic analytics firm

According to the report, more consumers are shopping at c-stores, which have experienced consistent year-over-year (YoY) growth. In its report, attributed the growth to innovation among leading chains, such as Casey’s, Maverik, Buc-ee’s and Rutter’s. 

[RELATED: Why Consumers Are Opting for Foodservice at Retail Over Restaurant Meals]

Some of those innovations center on food, potentially siphoning sales from traditional grocers and quick-service restaurants. As’s analysts point out, Casey's has become well-known for breakfast fare like breakfast pizza, while Maverik has done well with a variety of chef-inspired creations.

“I think prepared meals have become a game-changer for c-stores. If we look at pre- and post-pandemic, c-stores have been a category where we have seen increases in visits, and they’ve done a good job on the food side of it. It’s not an afterthought anymore,” R.J. Hottovy, head of analytical research at, told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview, noting that dwell times have gone up along with traffic, signaling shoppers’ penchant for browsing for meals, snacks and other sustenance that can be eaten on the go or taken home for later consumption. 

These enhanced offerings mirror what’s going on in traditional supermarkets, which continue to experiment with foodservice-at-retail programs. “We saw the partnership that Kroger had with Kitchen United and although they have moved away from that, I still think fresh and prepared food is what a lot of grocery stores are pursuing. Some of them have a food hall setup or a mini food court,” Hottovy said. 

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Also going up at c-stores: square footage.’s whitepaper points to the success of Buc-ee's and Rutter's, which are larger-format stores that have also become trendy among today’s consumers. (Case in point: a billboard in Michigan advertising a Buc-ee’s store 444 miles away has gotten local buzz in that state.)

“Buc-ee’s had a dwell time of 20 minutes, during the first quarter. If you compare that to the rest of the group, which ranges between 9 and 11 minutes, it tells you it’s a different experience,” Hottovy noted. 

Beyond getting people to stay longer, Buc-ee’s also gets consumers in more often.’s research shows that the chain is garnering more weekend visits, with 39.6% of visits taking place on the weekends in the first quarter of this year, compared to a rate of 28.3% for the wider c-store industry. 

Rutter’s is also doing well within a larger footprint that offers a broader assortment to consumers. As’s paper pointed out, a Rutter’s location in York, Pa., that recently added a second story and bumped up its offerings of wine and beer experienced a 15.6% lift in visits over the past year. 

Founded more than 50 years ago and based in Ankeny, Iowa, Casey's operates more than 2,500 convenience stores around the United States. The retailer is No. 33 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. Salt Lake City-based Maverik operates nearly 400 locations in 13 western states. It is No. 58 on The PG 100. 

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