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U.S. Convenience Store Industry Tops 120,000 Stores

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - The U.S. convenience store industry grew 4.0 percent in 2001, increasing to a record 124,516 stores, according to the new NACS/Trade Dimensions Official Industry Store Count 2001. The count, which reports data collected by the industry research firm Trade Dimensions, provides an industry store count as of Dec. 31, 2001.

The 4.0 percent increase in number of stores follows a 0.3 percent increase in 2000, a 5.0 percent increase in 1999, and a 4.5 percent increase in 1998. In comparison, 10 years ago, the official industry store count stood at 103,400, and 20 years ago there were 71,400 stores.

"The convenience store industry's impressive growth in 2001 shows that consumers have clearly embraced the innovative new services and products that retailers continue to introduce to deliver convenience and speed of service to their customers each and every day," said Teri Richman, NACS' senior vice president of strategic alliances and initiatives. "This growth is remarkable given the year-long downturn in the economy and increasing competition from other retail channels," Richman added.

Overall, the report shows that 14,385 convenience stores opened in 2001, more than offsetting the 9,600 stores that closed.

Texas led the nation in total number of convenience stores (12,775), as well as number of convenience stores selling motor fuels (10,824), which more than doubles the total of every other state. (California was the closest, with 5,158 convenience stores selling motor fuels.) Meanwhile, the eight-state South Atlantic region (which includes the District of Columbia) was home to the most convenience stores in the country, nearly one quarter of all stores in the U.S. (28,135 stores), with the six-state New England region having the fewest (6,010).

Also, the industry continues to be dominated by smaller, "independent" operators - stores that are part of a company of three or fewer stores. According to the report, 54.9 percent of all stores are now classified as "independents," an increase from the 50.7 percent reported in 2000. "The continued growth of independent retailers shows that 75 years after its founding, the convenience store industry is still a place for entrepreneurs and a gateway to small business ownership," said Richman.

"The growth evident in the latest industry store count demonstrates that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in America," said Hal Clark, president of Trade Dimensions. "Convenience store retailers continue to thrive by constantly adapting and finding new opportunities that others overlook. They have redefined how they deliver convenience to consumers, by readily adding new products and services to meet the consumers convenience needs in a time-constrained world. It appears to be a successful strategy," Clark said.
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