C-Stores Not Out of the Woods Yet

April was a tough month for foodservice and fuel, while some in-store categories saw strong sales. 

June 22, 2020

By Chris Blasinsky

ALEXANDRIA, VA—NACS CSX data for the month of April paints a picture that may not surprise most retailers, although there are some bright spots.

Throughout April, convenience stores nationwide continued to heed federal and local guidance that limited customer access to self-serve foodservice like roller grill, bakery cases, coffee and dispensed beverages. April CSX data reflect these operational changes, with per store/per month foodservice sales down by 17.3%, compared with April 2019.

Among the foodservice subcategories, per store/per month prepared food sales were down 12.8%—but up from 19.8% in March. Hot dispensed beverage sales took a huge hit in April, down 40.9%, as well as cold dispensed beverages (down 28.7%) and frozen dispensed beverages (down 25.7%). Commissary, which was a bright spot in March (down 0.9%), saw a per store/per month sales decline of 17.5%.

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

  • 55.3% drop in fuel sales
  • 39.3% drop in total sales
  • 33.4% drop in fuel gallons
  • 24.1% drop in total transactions

Inside the store, merchandise sales performed well in April: Per store/per month in-store merchandise sales (excluding cigarettes) increased 5.7% in April, compared with April 2019, while cigarette sales grew 6.4% and beer/wine/liquor sales rose 25.7%.

Other categories that saw a significant uptick in April 2020, compared with April 2019:

  • Perishable grocery: +101.1%
  • Packaged bread: +33.7%
  • Fluid milk products: +19.5%
  • Non-edible grocery: +17.7%

(Data is reported in accordance with NACS Category Definitions)

Meanwhile, CSX per store/per month data from January to April 2019, compared with January to April 2020, shows that fuel sales fell 18.2% and foodservice sales dropped 3.8%. Here are more topline comparisons:

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“Looking at April data, clearly our industry is not out of the woods yet. But when we look at 2020 CSX data from January to April, there are signals that suggest retailers may come out of the harder-hit pandemic months a bit more unscathed than perhaps anticipated, which also speaks volumes to our industry’s resiliency during challenging times,” said Chris Rapanick, director of business development at NACS.

NACS CSX data is 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.

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