Bringing Coffee Back

Retailers and manufacturers rethink strategies to get coffee fans back in stores.

April 01, 2022

Hot Coffee Cup and Coffee Beans

By Pat Pape

Every day, Americans down about 656 million cups of coffee, reports to the National Coffee Association, and historically, convenience stores have helped meet that need.

But when COVID-19 began spreading in March 2020, many consumers chose to brew their own java, increasing at-home coffee consumption and providing opportunities for house-bound workers to try new drinks.

According to consumer researchers at Mintel, 27% of coffee consumers tried a new coffee brand during the pandemic, 22% created specialty coffee drinks at home and 13% purchased an entirely new coffee appliance.

“Hot dispensed beverages is the second largest foodservice category in convenience stores, making up 3% of total in-store sales and 12% of foodservice sales,” said Jayme Gough, research manager, NACS. “But because of the pandemic, 2020 sales were down 32.2%, and gross profit was down 34.4%.”

The year started off well, but by the time COVID-19 was an official pandemic, “everything went awry,” she said. “Sales picked up going into 2021, but we were still behind in January and February compared with 2020. By April, sales were stable, but shoppers were still hesitant about going out, and then we had all the variants. Unfortunately, the category hasn’t yet recovered.”

To lure coffee connoisseurs back into stores, distributors and retailers are reviewing their strategies for the hot beverage bar.

Read the rest of this NACS Magazine article in March’s Category Close-Up article “Reheating a Once-Hot Category” in the digital copy of NACS Magazine.

Learn how the hot dispensed subcategory performed in c-stores in 2021 and get a look at what’s ahead in the foodservice category deep dive at the NACS State of the Industry Summit, April 12-14, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Chicago. Matt High, senior made to order, category sales manager, Sheetz, will present key insights about the category’s performance in 2021 and share how Sheetz remains top of mind with customers. Register for the SOI Summit today.

Pat Pape worked in the convenience store industry for more than 20 years before becoming a full-time writer. See more of her articles at