Milk Is Back

Fluid milk might not have high margins, but it has the potential to contribute.

February 08, 2022

Chocolate Milk in a glass

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Convenience stores introduced my children to the wonders of strawberry milk. Chocolate milk had long captured their attention through the school lunch line, but strawberry milk was something out of the ordinary at the most ubiquitous of retailers—the convenience store. My family isn’t the only one buying flavored milk, among other types of fluid milk, at convenience stores lately.

“In 2020, many customers choose convenience stores as their primary shopping trip for staples, including fluid milk. Sales of fluid milk in 2020 were higher in nearly all months of the year compared with 2019,” said Jayme Gough, research manager, NACS.

While fluid milk is one of the smallest categories in convenience retail, the category saw sales rise 6.5% to an average of $49,790 per store in 2020, according to the NACS State of the Industry (SOI) Report. “This bump was likely the result of increased store traffic for ‘necessary home staples’ during the first year of the pandemic,” Gough said.

Gross margins for milk also rose in 2020, from 23.23% to 23.82%, which helped boost gross profit per store 9.2% to a total of $11,859 yearly. “What the pandemic in 2020 did was remind shoppers that c-stores often stock pantry essentials, like fluid milk, and those shoppers will be more apt to think of c-stores for future fill-in grocery trips,” Gough said. “Despite shoppers feeling comfortable returning to grocery stores for their staples, NACS CSX data show monthly fluid milk sales are higher than 2020 in all but one month so far in 2021.”

Read the remainder of this NACS Magazine article in January’s Category Close-Up article “A Necessary Staple” in the digital copy of NACS Magazine.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and NACS Magazine contributor based in Fairfax, Virginia. Visit her online at