US convenience stores to finish the year on a high note

An overwhelming 84 per cent of US convenience store operators say they are optimistic about their business prospects for the fourth quarter, which would continue the pattern of strong sales throughout 2019.

The results are from the latest quarterly retail sentiment survey from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). The survey included responses from 118 companies, representing 2,906 stores.

In-store merchandise and fuel sales on the rise

According to the survey, nearly three in four retailers say that in-store merchandise sales were up over the first nine months of 2019. Convenience retailers, which sell an estimated 80 per cent of the fuel purchased in the US, also report that fuel sales increased: 52 per cent report that fuel sales were higher than last year. Only 10 per cent of retailers say that merchandise sales were down and only 17 per cent reported a decrease in fuel sales.

Factors affecting sales

Fourth quarter sales will be closely linked to two factors that drive customer traffic to stores: the weather and geopolitical events that could affect oil prices, say retailers.

Retailers say that the morning daypart (approximately 6am to 11am) drives the most sales: 62 per cent say it’s the most importance daypart for merchandise sales and 50 per cent say it’s the most important time for fuel sales.

Retailers also say that beverages help drive customer traffic inside the store. Most retailers (57 per cent) say that buying a beverage was the top reason why customers comes inside the store, compared to 23 per cent for a food purchase and 18 per cent to purchase something else.

The quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey was fielded September 17-23.

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