Convenience Store Growth Poised to Continue Amid Pandemic

Convenience stores have been reaping the benefits of pandemic-induced shifts in consumer behavior and many chains across the U.S. are targeting expansion, according to a Retail Tenant Expansion Report by real estate firm Stan Johnson Co.

The convenience channel grew 7.7% in Q3 of 2021, per IRI, outperforming the broader market for the third quarter in a row. Stronger growth was largely the result of increased consumer mobility and more overall visits, boosted by the broader variety of food offerings.

“The convenience store sector is reporting strong levels of planned expansion, with 7-Eleven looking to grow significantly in the long term and Quik Trip planning a significant regional expansion,” Lanie Beck, director of corporate research, marketing, and communications at Stan Johnson Co., told (Dec 29).

Mergers & Acquisitions

M&A activity across the convenience store sector was significant in 2021, according to the Convenience Store News year in review. (Dec 21)

In the most notable deal, 7-Eleven Inc. closed on its $21-billion acquisition of Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Speedway LLC network, which added 3,800 locations bringing its North American store count to 14,000.

Other notable transactions include:

  • Murphy USA closed on its $645-million acquisition of QuickChek Corp. bringing 157 c-stores in the Northeast to Murphy USA’s portfolio.
  • Circle K announced the sale of 269 sites across 25 states in the United States and 37 sites across six provinces in Canada.
  • Casey’s General Stores Inc. has added 150 locations to date in its 2022 fiscal year, including a $39 million acquisition of 49 Circle K sites in Oklahoma.

Footprint Expansion

Stan Johnson Co’s Top 100 Expansion Trends summarizes of future growth plans for top retailers. Here is the most notable c-store expansion activity as of December 2021:

  • On the heels of the Speedway acquisition, global giant 7-Eleven is eyeing a long-term plan to expand to 20,000 stores in the U.S. by adding 6,000 locations in North America.
  • Oklahoma-based Quick Trip reached a 900-store milestone in 2021. The regional chain operates in 13 states and plans to open 70 stores by 2025.
  • Sheetz is targeting a 50-store expansion by 2022. Based in Pennsylvania, the chain currently operates over 600 stores across six states.
  • Wawa has 29 new locations opening in Q4 2021. The chain operates over 900 stores across the East Coast.