Summer Sales at C-stores Trigger Optimism

Nearly three in four retailers reported an increase of sales year over year.

September 25, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A nationwide survey of U.S. c-store owners conducted by NACS found that 72% of convenience retailers experienced in-store sales increase in the first nine months of 2018 compared to the same time last year. More than half (52%) said their fuel sales increased compared to last year.

The strong sales this year are causing optimism among retailers: 87% are optimistic about their business prospects for the next quarter; 87% are optimistic about the industry prospects, and 85% are optimistic about the overall economy’s prospects. All three optimism measures are at record highs for the NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey.

Strong c-store sales can be attributed to an active summer as more people are outdoors and families are on road trips. Retailers most often cite good weather, positive economic news and low gas prices as the top three factors that drive sales, and all of these factors were cited as positively affecting sales over the past three months.

On the flip side, 9% of retailers said that in-store sales declined and 20% said fuels sales declined. There also are a few challenges that retailers expressed, including more competition from dollar stores and new regulations for tobacco and wage hikes. Weather also played a role regionally, with a rainy summer affecting sales in the Mid-Atlantic region, for example.

NACS has conducted the quarterly NACS Retailer Sentiment Survey since 2015 to both track retailer sentiment and survey retailer involvement and interest in a variety of issues related to their businesses. A total of 90 NACS member companies, representing a cumulative 1,494 stores, participated in the September 2018 survey examining sentiment for Q4 2018.