Consumer Trips to C-Stores Regain Some Ground

The beer and packaged beverages categories are driving the continued year-over-year sales growth, PDI/NACS Insights show.

October 06, 2020

By Kim Stewart

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Following the fluctuations seen in the weeks leading up to and during Labor Day, c-stores are seeing consumer trips return to levels seen before the holiday. Both the key morning rush and basket spend are holding relatively stable at about 85% of prior year’s trips and +20% in basket spend compared with the year-earlier, according to the latest biweekly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 continues to impact consumer behavior.

Convenience stores saw a boost in dollar sales (+4.8% year over year) during the two-week period ended September 27, slightly below levels seen at the end of July and the end of August.

Dollar sales are still above the prior year, despite c-store trips continuing to be well below last year. Trips overall stood at -12.6% for the two-week period ended September 27 vs. -12.8% for the two-week period ended September 13.

Beer and packaged beverages drove sales growth for the week ended September 27, outpacing other categories. Beer trips have remained in positive territory, and the packaged beverages category, which had slipped back into the red ahead of Labor Day, is still in the red but improved in the latest two-week period. Dollar sales were up +13.7% year over year in the beer category and up +5.9% in the packaged beverages category for the latest one-week period. Foodservice and hot and cold dispensed beverages  continue to depress trips and dollar sales compared with the year-ago period but are slowly improving.

Looking at the week ended September 27 vs. the week ended August 30—the week leading up to the Labor Day holiday—the 7 a.m. to 9:59 a.m. weekday morning daypart saw trips improve to 84% of prior-year trips, compared with 80% of prior-year trips for the week ended August 30, 2020. Trips during the lunchtime/early afternoon and late afternoon/evening dayparts stood at 88% and 87% of prior-year trips, respectively.

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.