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Rising fuel prices and strong tobacco sales helped push convenience stores to record sales in 2011, but strong growth of in-store sales provided a boost to the industry, as well.
That’s the summary of the National Association of Convenience Stores’ annual State of the Industry report released Monday. Total sales in 2011 rose 18.5 percent to a record $681.9 billion, and sales have grown 33.4 percent in the past two years.
Inside sales, meanwhile, grew 2.4 percent to $195 billion, the ninth consecutive year of rising sales for inside sales. The report said the increase was driven primarily by strong snack, candy and HBC sales.
The report did say, though, that the convenience channel fell behind the pace of other retail channels in 2011 after being at or near the top in retail channel growth in 2009 and 2010.
In-store sales rose 2.4 percent for convenience stores, and according to data the report cites from the Commerce Department, retail sales rose 8.2 percent in restaurants, 5.7 percent in warehouse clubs, 5.6 percent in grocery stores, 5.2 percent in dollar stores, and 3.2 percent in drugstores.
Still, the report remained bullish on the 2012 outlook for convenience stores.
“The fragmentation and diversity inherent in the convenience store industry promotes the enactment of new strategies, products, and processes to better compete for customers,” the report says. “Strong competition within the convenience store industry means the industry is better able to compete against other retail formats in the long run.
“Retailers must keep their focus on the customer and exceed expectations.”
One other interesting note. Credit and debit card fees, tracked by NACS for the report since 2003, rose 23.3 percent last year to a record $11.1 billion. Those fees are the second-largest expense for convenience stores after labor, the report says.