Consumers Move Toward ‘Normal’

Beer and wine trips to c-stores are down, while foodservice and commissary improve, PDI/NACS Insights show. 

June 23, 2020

By Kim Stewart

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Trips to c-stores are gradually increasing as state lockdowns ease, and consumers overall still are spending more than they did during the same period last year. However, with more trips, shoppers aren’t spending as much as they did just a few weeks back—evidence that they aren’t stocking up like they did in the early days of the pandemic, according to the latest weekly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior.

For the week ended June 14, trips for lottery/gaming, foodservice and commissary increased, but beer and wine trips, while still well above last year, eased. Reopenings of restaurants may be having an adverse impact on c-stores, slowing down off-premise consumption of alcohol. Trips for cigarettes and other tobacco products also fell.

The weekday morning rush is still lagging but making a slow comeback, with trips during the 7 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. daypart still at about 90% of their pre-COVID levels.

Here are some additional insights for the week ended June 14, 2020: 

  • Dollar sales growth fell slightly from the prior week (+8% vs. +8.8% for the week ended June 7).
  • Basket spend pulled back year over year (+19.9% vs. +21.5% for the week ended June 7).
  • Store services marked a big decline in spend year over year (+16.6% vs. +29.1% for the week ended June 7), which is expected following the start of the month.
  • Beer spend softened year over year (+12.9% vs. +15.1% for the week ended June 7).
  • Trips continued to improve over the prior three weeks (-9.9% year over year vs. -10.4% for the week ended June 7, -13.4% for the week ended May 31 and -13.5% for the week ended May 24).
  • Foodservice and commissary trips—two categories hard hit during the pandemic—increased year over year (-25.3% and -12.1%, respectively, vs. -27.5% and -19.6%, respectively, for the week ended June 7), but the categories continue to weigh on store trip performance overall.
  • Packaged beverages (non-alcoholic) continued its growth both in sales and trips (dollar sales +10.5% year over year, and trips increased +1.3%).

Powered by PDI Insights Cloud, the report provides consumer trip and basket-level data and analysis that will enable essential businesses around the United States to deliver what their customers want and need right now. The report combines consumer buying data from 5,500 mid- to large-size convenience retail sites across all key geographic locations.

Going forward, PDI and NACS are shifting to a biweekly report. Look for the next one July 8.

Click here to read the free two-page summary, and click here to get the full report from PDI, including category sales analysis.

Kim Stewart is editorial director of NACS and editor-in-chief of NACS Magazine.