Canadian C-Store Chain Sees Growth in Pandemic Business

More shoppers seek out convenience stores for pantry staples and private-label brands.

January 18, 2022

On the Run

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On the Run convenience stores, which are owned by Parkland Corporation headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, have seen sales of grocery staples and grab-and-go foods increase since the start of the pandemic, and it’s helping the company’s revenue stream, reports Red Deer Advocate.

“It’s interesting if you look at the height of the pandemic in 2020 convenience store sales soared,” Parkland President and CEO Bob Espey told Red Deer. “Folks were reluctant to go into conventional stores because of the health worries. What we’ve seen is folks have re-discovered convenience stores as a way to get their fill-in type of shopping done.”

Red Deer reports that convenience stores are resilient even during economic downturns like the one Alberta has experienced for the past few years.

Parkland says its working on increasing its food options, including a new private-label line called 59th Street Food Co. The company already has another private-label line called Cargo, which includes non-food items such as windshield wiper fluid.

“Part of our strategy is to have our own brands so we can pick the markets and build brand equity around our consumer,” said Espey. “The advantage of having your own brand is you have control. You can offer what the consumer wants.”

Parkland’s private labels bring in a 50% profit margin, and having its own brands also gives the company leverage when negotiating with vendors, says Parkland.

Private-label brands are enjoying a resurgence, as convenience retailers, grocers and mass merchandisers alike look to catch the eyes and wallets of consumers with exclusive products that aim to outshine major brands.

According to 7-Eleven, about eight out of every 10 Americans buy private-brand products to save money, NACS Magazine reported in “Private Matters” in the April 2021 issue. Millennials have a particular affinity for the value and quality that the brands offer, the chain said, and are contributing to the growing popularity of retailer brands.

A category deep dive at the 2022 NACS State of the Industry Summit, which will take place April 12-14 in Chicago, will cover private-label performance in the convenience retail channel. Hear from Ben Hoffmeyer, vice president of marketing and foodservice, Texas Born Stores (TXB), who will lead the session.