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C-Stores are the Fastest Foodservice Option

Convenience stores are considered the fastest location to buy something to eat or drink, according to a survey from NACS.

Consumers chose c-stores over fast food restaurants as having the shortest wait times by a 2-to-1 margin. Nearly half of all gas customers go inside a store when they’re buying gas for one-stop shopping, while more than half of consumers say their prime reason to go inside is to buy a beverage. As convenience stores sell approximately 80% of the fuel purchased in U.S., this is a powerful way to attract customers.

Convenient locations and fast service are what consumers say convenience stores do best. Nearly two in three live within five minutes of a convenience store, and 93% live within 10 minutes of one. Even in smaller towns, convenience stores are nearby, with 86% of Americans in rural communities reporting they live within 10 minutes of a store. Half of all consumers say they are in and out of the store with a purchase in three minutes or less, and c-stores sell immediate consumption items, with 83% of in-store merchandise consumed within one hour of purchase.

NACS research suggests consumers are looking to save even more time inside the store, with 92% of respondents saying they’d be interested in using automatic checkout technologies, and 67% saying they would try same-day grocery delivery. Sixty-seven percent would like to pick up their online shopping orders at a brick-and-mortar c-store location.

The U.S. convenience store market, at 155,000 stores, represents 34% of all brick-and-mortar retailers across the country, and developing innovations through store design, technology, services and on-the-go food options is top of mind for the industry.

For example, more retailers are separating the convenience side from the foodservice side, or even housing multiple food brands under one roof like a food hall. In addition, since 8% of Millennials report using their car’s cup holder for food over the past month, new product innovations are delivering cup-holder-sized packaging including fresh deli salads, soup, yogurt, confections and mints.

For the full story, go to this week’s Food Institute Report.