Self-Serve Beverages at C-Stores Coming Back Online

Wawa reinstates self-pour at some stores, while Indiana OKs reopening c-store soda fountains.

May 20, 2020

PHILADELPHIA—Wawa has begun to restart its self-service coffee and fountain drinks after shutting down the service during the pandemic, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The chain has resumed self-service beverages in about 60 stores nationwide and plans to expand to other areas in coming weeks.

Locations include stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, the Inquirer reports, citing a Wawa spokesperson. In March, Wawa shuttered its self-service stations and had employees pouring drinks for customers.

“Before and during the COVID crisis, we have continuously enhanced our safety measures including around coffee and beverages,” Wawa said in a statement shared by the Inquirer. “Resuming some self-serve beverages will improve convenience and speed during store visits, enabling customers to get in and out faster to maximize social distancing.”

Last week, Wawa outlined how its stores would transition to normal services while keeping stores clean, sanitized and safe for customers.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb last week announced gas stations and convenience stores could once again allow self-pouring. However, the governor’s Executive Order 20-26 does not permit restaurants to restart their self-service stations, the Indianapolis Tribune-Star reports.

Across the country, many convenience stores either voluntarily or by executive order shut down their self-service beverage and food counters to help stem the tide of the coronavirus outbreak. Some chains, however, elected to keep their self-serve beverage stations open but with vigilant cleaning.

Cold dispensed beverage sales generated $21,733 gross profit dollars per store in 2019 and had an average gross margin of 47.35%, according to NACS State of the Industry data. Carbonated fountain beverages accounted for 62.7% of cold dispensed beverage sales in 2019. Hot dispensed beverage sales generated $58,875 gross profit dollars per store and had an average gross margin of 63.03% in 2019, according to NACS SOI data. Coffee accounted for 65% of hot dispensed beverage sales in 2019.

Reserve your copy today of the 2020 NACS State of the Industry report, which will be released in June. Pre-orders for both the hard copy (last year in this format) and digital PDF versions are available here.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.