LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa.—Two Pennsylvania-based companies, Wawa and Sheetz, already have a cumulative total of 25 c-stores in the Lehigh Valley. And while some think that’s enough and say that “the c-store landscape is maxed out,” Wawa is opening five more stores in the next two years, and Sheetz will open another, reports the Morning Call.
So why is there a c-store convenience store boom in Lehigh Valley?
“Sheetz and Wawa are not opening stores in the same town because it’s an ego battle,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives for NACS. “It’s because they think the community can support both stores.”
He adds that “We are at a point where people seek out food from a convenience store.” Comparatively, two decades ago, it was most consumers’ last choice for food.
Chains like Sheetz and Wawa are revamping their strategy to focus on promoting food first, then gas and convenience second. Many c-stores are paying attention to new demographic wants and needs, such as cleanliness, healthier foods and better grab-and-go options.
“The business-friendly environment combined with an amazing workforce and customer base, excellent road networks and tremendous growth in areas like technology and manufacturing make this a great investment,” Wawa’s spokeswoman Lori Bruce said.
Folks certainly have their preference: Wawa or Sheetz. But it all comes down to a healthy competition for Lehigh Valley residents.
In 2018, there were an estimated 153,237 convenience stores nationwide, down about 1% from 2017, according to NACS State of the Industry data. Pennsylvania ranks ninth, with 4,778 stores.