U.S. C-Store Count Up 5.8% in 2004

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The number of convenience stores in the United States now stands at 138,205 -- a 5.8 percent increase over the 130,659 stores identified at year-end 2003, according to the new National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)/TDLinx Official Industry Store Count, endorsed by Convenience Store News, a sister publication of Progressive Grocer.

"While the increase partly is attributable to the opening of new convenience stores, the increase largely came from better visibility to independents, and from existing stores that now meet our convenience store definition," said Scott Taylor, e.v.p. and general manager of TDLinx, an ACNielsen brand. The TDLinx definition of a convenience store includes a broad merchandise mix and a minimum of 500 SKUs.

Every region in the United States saw an increase in the number of stores, led by the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania), which saw a 9.8 percent increase, and the East South Central region (Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee), which saw a 9.7 percent increase. Meanwhile, the South Atlantic region (Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia) continues to be the region with the most convenience stores in the country -- 31,855 stores -- nearly one-quarter of all convenience stores in the United States.

"There's no question that consumer demand for convenience continues to increase, and this demand is leading to more stores fitting the definition of convenience stores," said Teri Richman, NACS s.v.p. of research and public affairs. "As competition for the convenience customer continues to intensify, it is clear that stores are increasingly looking to meet the demand."

Ten years ago, the official convenience store count stood at 98,200; 20 years ago there were 85,300 stores.

Still, change is a constant within the industry, according to the data: Despite the strong increase in the overall store count, approximately one in 20 stores closed in 2004 (7,472 stores, or 5.7 percent of all stores). These closings were more than offset by 13,970 new stores added to the store count, however.
-- From Progressive Grocer sister Website, CSNews
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