By Sarah Hamaker
This article is brought to you by Core-Mark, a NACS Hunter Club Gold member.
The coronavirus pandemic upended foot traffic, shifting the traditional busy breakfast and morning commuter period to later in the day and lunch to well beyond noon. “Because of this change in foot traffic patterns, we saw an opportunity to capture interest and food dollars in a nontraditional daypart for convenience stores—the afternoon snack and evening meal,” said Jac Moskalik, director of fresh and foodservice for Core-Mark, based in Westlake, Texas. “During COVID-19, retailers attracted new consumers, and they want to keep those customers coming into their stores, so they need to expand their offerings with more immediate consumption and future consumption products.”
The convenience store industry is especially well-positioned to win more snacking opportunities in the afternoon and evening hours. For example, the coronavirus pandemic accelerated snacking and snack food consumption, which had been rising prior to 2020, according to the NPD Group. “America is a nation of snackers, and we’re no longer as averse to snacking as we once were. Instead, snacking is viewed as a way to have a quick bite in between meals or as a convenient meal side,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Snacking is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, and this way of thinking provides endless opportunities for food and snack marketers.”
The evening daypart also offers an area with potential for growth at convenience stores. Today’s consumer wants evening meal options for immediate consumption and to cook at home with their families. “This has been a traditionally underserved meal for the industry,” Moskalik said. “We see the increased interest in frozen foods and fresh-prepared, family-sized meals as feeding this trend.”
Both afternoon snacking and dinner represent two additional ways convenience stores can capture more of the consumer food dollar, and pivoting to meet that need can be relatively simple. Here’s how you can do this.
This article is excerpted from “Capturing an Underserved Daypart” in the September 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.
Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Daily and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Va. Visit her online at www.sarahhamakerfiction.com.