A Bright Forecast for the Convenience Industry

NACS research supports positive trends continuing throughout 2021.

July 07, 2021

Convenience Matters Podcast Episode 291

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—After a lackluster 2020, 2021 is shaping up to be a good year for convenience store sales.

“I think we’re going to know in July how this year is going to finish up and if it stays on track, like it is, I think everyone’s going to be super happy with how it ends,” said Chris Rapanick, director of business development for NACS and CSX LLC, on this week’s Convenience Matters podcast, “Examining the Convenience Industry Forecast Using a Crystal Ball and a Rear-View Mirror.”

He added that it’s a testament to the industry about how it has not only survived but thrived during the past two years.

For example, last year, the convenience and fuel retailing industry benefited from being at times the only place where people could purchase bleach, soap or facemasks without encountering a lot of people. “The industry also benefited in that fact that people bought larger packs of beer [and other take-home sized packages] than they might normally buy,” Rapanick said.

Rapanick said the industry pivoted quickly to meet the new demands of the pandemic. “It was amazing how fast those changes were made to go to curbside or go to an app that people could order with,” he said. “It’s just such a testament to the folks that are working in this industry.”

The other trend has been the rising number of cars on the road this year compared with 2020, which could mean a shift in foot traffic.

“That morning day part, the breakfast commute, … was affected the most [by COVID-19],” he said. “Lunch time stayed pretty steady, and the evening day part actually developed a little bit of new business because a lot of folks were buying dinner to take home.”

As for basket size, that has been on the rise, too. “The good news is that in 2021, we started out January and February with a $9 basket size. The average for 2020 was $7.34, the highest it had ever been,” Rapanick said. “I believe [an average] basket size of $7.25 or maybe $7.10 would still be a huge increase in business for retailers as transaction counts come back.”

The newly released NACS State of the Industry Report® of 2020 Data is now available for purchase via the NACS Store. Here, retailers, industry suppliers and investment partners and consultants will find pricing details and how to access their registered license to download the digital report.

Each week a new Convenience Matters episode is released. With more than 280 episodes to choose from, the podcast can be heard on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and other podcast apps and YouTube and at www.conveniencematters.com. Episodes have been downloaded more than a quarter million times by listeners around the world.