International news: US store numbers keep rising

The US convenience store count increased to a record 154,535 stores as of December 31, 2016, a 0.2 per cent increase (340 stores) from 2015, according to the 2017 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS)/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

The industry store count has increased by 63 per cent over the past three decades and in only five of the years in this period has the store count failed to set a record, the latest being year-end 2008 and 2009 during the ‘great recession’.

“Nielsen data shows that the US convenience store channel continues to be an industry of opportunity,” Nielsen EVP of Retail Services Rob Hill said. “The current consumer climate has created favourable conditions for convenience store sales growth, contributing to a positive, long-term outlook.”

Within the retail universe that Nielsen tracks, convenience stores account for 34.1 per cent of all outlets in the US. In fact, the convenience store count alone is 25 per cent higher than the combined store counts of ‘superettes’, supermarkets and supercentres (51,191 stores), drug stores (43,636 stores) and dollar stores (28,832 stores).

Overall, 80.1 per cent of convenience stores (123,807) sell motor fuels, a decrease of 0.6 per cent (or 567 stores) from 2016, with the single-store motor-fuel segment dropping by 604 stores.

NACS Director of Research and Statistics Bob Swanson says this decline could be something to watch.

“It’s likely that some stores have stopped selling fuel for reasons such as the cost of PCI compliance and competition from QSRs, as well as industry consolidation,” he said.

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