C-Store Trips Erode in Mid-May

The morning rush has the most ground to recover, the latest weekly report from PDI and NACS shows. 

May 27, 2020

By Kim Stewart

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—After several weeks on the upswing, the convenience channel experienced a slight drop-off in trips, overall dollar sales and average spend per transaction for the week ended May 17, compared with the prior week, due in part to an exceptional prior week and severe weather in some regions of the U.S., according to the latest weekly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior.

Beer, cold dispensed beverages, frozen dispensed beverages and non-alcoholic beverages all gave back some of their year-over-year gains in trips for the week ended May 17. The beer and non-alcoholic beverages categories remain in positive dollar sales territory, though.

The morning daypart (7 to 9:59 a.m.) continues to struggle to regain trips as consumers still haven’t fully returned to their usual routines. Morning rush trips are still at 75% of the level they were during the year-earlier week.

Looking at category spend, packaged beverages slipped following two consecutive weeks of improvement but remains in the black, up 1.3% over the year-ago week. Tobacco, candy and salty snacks spend was relatively unchanged compared with the prior week. Alcohol, money orders and lottery/gaming sales still lead dollar growth.

Here are some key insights for the week ended May 17, 2020:

  • Spend per trip increased year-over-year but slowed from the prior week (+24.8% vs. +25.4% for the week ended May 10), likely affected by the usual decline in high-spend money order and other service trips, which peak at the start of each month.
  • Trips edged slightly lower from the prior week (-0.5%), likely due to Tropical Storm Arthur and storms in the Northeast and South.
  • Average basket size contracted 2.3% from the prior week ($9.64 vs. $9.87 for the week ended May 10).
  • Beer’s gains in trips slowed year-over year (+7.2% vs. +11.3% for the week ended May 10).
  • Cold dispensed beverages’ trip declines widened (-32.1% vs. -26% for the week ended May 10). 
  • Frozen dispensed beverages’ trip declines eroded (-23.2% vs. -16.6% for the week ended May 10). 

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.

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.