Shoppers Flocking to C-Stores for Groceries
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on the convenience store channel, with operators reporting a surge in grocery sales.
According to a fresh new survey from the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), c-store retailers said that they've seen an increase in sales of grocery staples as customers increasingly turn to their local convenience stores for pantry items.
Findings from a national survey conducted by NACS included:
- More than half of convenience retailers (52%) said that their grocery sales have increased
- C-stores are offering more at-home products: 52% are adding more cleaning/toiletry items, 31% are emphasizing ready-to-heat meals, and 28% are offering more multipack/bulk items
- Stores have dramatically scaled back self-serve foodservice and restaurant functions but are offering new programs to allow social distancing and to enhance convenience: 14% are offering some sort of curbside pickup program and 11% have added or increased delivery options
- Around 66% of c-stores have closed public seating and dining areas, and 45% have removed customer access to self-serve foodservice such as coffee, fountain drinks, bakery items and roller grill
- Virtually all retailers (99%) said that they've enhanced their cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces, with regular cleaning conducted as often as every 20 minutes
- C-store retailers are supporting medical/health care personnel and first responders with free beverages and discounted food
“The emphasis on cross-contamination and customer safety is something that has been highlighted over and over during this crisis, and something that will continue long after this is over," said Dennis McCartney, director of operations at Pennsylvania-based c-store operator Landhope Farms. "We are vowing not to relax these ‘cleaning and sanitizing processes on steroids’ and will continue to magnify their importance to our associates and our customers.”