C-Store Food and Fuel Sales Declined in May

NACS CSX data hinted at signs of improvement inside the store, but foodservice and fuels took a hit.  

July 20, 2020

By Chris Blasinsky

ALEXANDRIA, VA—NACS CSX data for the month of May shows signs of improvement in the convenience retail channel, including some in-store categories that have continued to attract consumers throughout the pandemic.

According to NACS CSX data for the month of May, merchandise sales performed well: Per store/per month in-store merchandise sales (excluding cigarettes) increased 5.8%, compared with May 2019, while cigarette sales grew 2.5% and beer sales rose 27.1%.

This positive growth was offset by a steep decline in foodservice sales. Among the foodservice subcategories, per store/per month prepared food sales fell 19.7% in May, compared with a 12.8% drop in April. Hot dispensed beverage sales improved during May, down 31.3%, compared with a 40.9% decline in April, as well as cold dispensed beverages (down 21.1%) and frozen dispensed beverages (down 17%). Commissary, meanwhile, improved +1.5% after recording a per store/per month sales decline of 17.5% in April.

Also, compared with the year-ago period, per store/per month NACS CSX data for May 2020 reveal a:

  • 47.9% drop in fuels sales
  • 35.2% drop in total sales
  • 24.9% drop in fuel gallons
  • 17.4% drop in total transactions
Ice cream/frozen novelties enjoyed a significant sales increase, up 37.6% in May compared with May 2019. Other categories that saw a significant year-over-year increase:
  • Perishable grocery: +14.9%
  • Packaged bread: +22.1%
  • Fluid milk products: +6.7%
  • Non-edible grocery: +26.7%

(Data are reported in accordance with NACS Category Definitions)

Meanwhile, CSX per store/per month data from January to May, compared with the same period in 2019, show that fuel sales fell 26.9% and foodservice sales dropped 13.5%. Here are more topline comparisons:


April CSX data suggested that the industry was not out of the woods in terms of sales, which also proved to be the case for May. The month saw various states and localities entering different phases of reopening their economies and a pre-holiday environment.

CSX numbers for June could reflect a continued sales increase. A NACS Retailer Member survey conducted in June found that 82% of members experienced an increase in in-store sales in June compared with May, and 64% saw a fuels sales increase.

NACS CSX data are a subset of the annual NACS State of the Industry data received from monthly subscribers; the data is representative of all NACS regions. CSX is a dynamic, self-reported subscription database serving the convenience and fuel retailing industry and its stakeholders. For more information, visit convenience.org/CSX or email Chris Rapanick.

Chris Blasinsky is the NACS content communications strategist; she can be reached at cblasinsky@convenience.org, and on Twitter and LinkedIn.