C-Stores Profit from Pandemic

More than half of c-store operators said they expect their total 2020 sales to be at least somewhat higher than last year’s profits, according to CSP Daily News’  latest Outlook Survey.

Thirty-nine percent anticipate their 2020 sales to be at least somewhat lower than last year’s and 8% estimate sales will be about the same.

“Our industry is just very fortunate,” said Rutter’s CEO Scott Hartman. “It’s a very challenging time for a lot of people out there…But for our industry, we are in a good spot because we’re critical infrastructure, and critical infrastructure means that we’re required to stay open. And by being open, it gives you an opportunity to sell something.”

During the pandemic, consumers have been drawn to c-stores for quick purchases and grab & go food options. “We are seeing more consumers opt for something prepackaged for safety reasons,” said Tim Powell, managing principal at consulting and insights firm Foodservice IP. “The thinking is the food handling by the staff is eliminated.”

C-store retailers have recognized the change in shopper behavior and adjusted operations, reported CS News (Oct. 22). Changes in packaging have been particularly important.

For example, Indiana-based Family Express Corp. modified its bakery assembly line to individually wrap doughnuts as they come off the line. It also started baking muffins in a square shape to fit in the plastic wrappers.

“Our customers are very much interested in safer ways to get the same, or at least similar, products. We received an overwhelmingly positive response from our customers when we started packaging our baked goods,” said Ryan Fasel, director of marketing for Family Express.

The Outlook Survey found that retailers’ biggest concerns are COVID-19 safety, the ability to hire and retain workers and employee turnover. Retailers also will be deciding whether to offer new services, such as home delivery or frictionless checkouts—such as touch free, mobile options.

PDI is working with NCR Corp. to provide mobile payments to convenience retailers, reported CSP Daily News (Nov. 10).

The integration allows convenience retailers with the latest NCR point-of-sale to use PDI’s mobile payment capabilities for payment methods such as Visa, Mastercard, Venmo, PayPal, or Automated Clearing House (ACH). PDI recently added payments to its Marketing Cloud Solutions offering after acquiring ZipLine, which specializes in ACH payment and mobile payment technology.

The product can be used to process mobile payments inside a c-store or at the pump.

“PDI has a history of providing fit-for-purpose solutions that enable convenience retailers to deliver better experiences for their customers,” said Brian Jefferson, SVP and general manager of retail and marketing cloud solutions at PDI. “Our partnership with NCR is another important milestone as we continue to offer convenient and safe ways for consumers to fuel up and shop during this time.”