Convenience stores and forecourt retailers proved during the pandemic that channel performance is not contingent on commuting patterns, with both recording positive sales growth in both 2020 and 2021, despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic led to substantially fewer daily commuters across the US. Grocery channels across the board have benefitted from increased at-home consumption, and convenience is no exception.
Ultrafast delivery – that is, delivery in a little as 10-30 minutes – has become a feature of the retailing landscape in the US, especially in large cities, as the array of options available to US consumers continues to grow. Third party delivery apps have proliferated and evolved to play a key role in this space over the past few years.
Retailer 7-Eleven strengthened its position as the leading player, by sales, in the US convenience stores channel – and pulled ahead of its competitors to become the leading player in the US forecourt retailers channel – after finally completing the USD21 billion acquisition of Speedway from Marathon Petroleum Corporation in May 2021. The move expanded 7-Eleven’s bricks-and-mortar footprint by over a third, even after divesting almost 300 Speedway stores to appease anti-trust concerns raised by the US Federal Trade Commission.
Convenience stores are currently reacting to a seismic shift in consumer expectations, which is drastically changing the makeup of the channel itself. Although convenience stores have historically been fertile ground for innovation, it is elsewhere in retailing and foodservice that much of the technological advancements have taken place over the past few years.
Many convenience stores and forecourt retailers, having drastically scaled down their foodservice offerings at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to appease consumers’ heightened health and safety concerns, have now taken steps to revitalise their fresh to-go food offerings, focusing on this category as one with serious potential boost top-line sales. The opportunity to capture a greater share of stomach has evolved with consumer preferences around eating occasions.
Amazon’s disruption of the US convenience store space is now poised to impact other channels. The company’s Amazon Go convenience store banner, which harnesses “just walk out” technology to offer customers a fully checkout-free experience, has proven to be a valuable testing ground for in-store concepts.
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Chained grocery retail outlets selling a wide range of groceries and fitting several of the following characteristics: Extended opening hours Selling area of less than 400 sq metres Located in residential neighbourhoods Handling two or more of the following product categories: audio-visual goods (for sale or rent), foodservice (prepared take-away, made-to-order, and hot foods), newspapers or magazines, cut flowers or pot plants, greetings cards, automotive accessories. Sales data excludes foodservice sales. Example brands include 7-Eleven, Spar. Note: The number of branches required to be termed chained varies from country to country but is usually ten or more. If a multinational is operating in the country, then this is included, even if there are fewer than ten outlets under the brand.See All of Our Definitions
This report originates from Passport, our Convenience Stores research and analysis database.
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