Frozen Dispensed Beverages Recovered in 2021

The cold treats delight consumers of all ages.

July 11, 2022

Frozen Dispensed Beverages

By Sarah Hamaker

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—On the first warm day of spring this year, I asked my high school senior if she wanted anything from our local 7-Eleven. Her eyes brightened immediately as she responded, “A Slurpee!” At the c-store, she mixed three flavors together for her own custom-blended slushie. Her delight reminded me how tightly connected frozen dispensed beverages are with warm temperatures—and how much kids, teens and adults still gravitate toward the cool, refreshing drinks.

“Depending on where your store is located, sales of frozen dispensed beverages typically spike in the summer and dip in the winter,” said Jayme Gough, research manager, NACS.

In 2020, frozen dispensed beverage sales were ahead of 2019 for the first quarter, but then the pandemic forced many retailers to shut down all or part of their foodservice programs, including self-dispensed beverages. However, 2021 sales recovered, closely mirroring monthly sales of 2019 and 2018, rather than 2020, according to CSX data.

While the smallest of the foodservice subcategories, frozen dispensed beverages typically bring in high margins. In 2021, gross margins for frozen dispensed improved by 2.08 percentage points to 65.37%, which boosted the category’s gross profits by 30.6% to $1,623 per store, per month. Overall, the category represented 1.15% of in-store sales last year, and 5.4% of foodservice sales, according to NACS State of the Industry data. “Getting foodservice programs back online in 2021 drove increased sales for the category,” Gough said.

At the 14 Y-Not Stop stores in Louisiana, frozen dispensed beverage sales are down year over year for some stores, “but frozen is performing better than other dispensed beverage categories on a unit sales year-over-year percent-change basis,” said Annie St. Romain Gauthier, CFO/co-CEO for St. Romain Oil Company, which operates the chain. “However, we opened our two newest stores in June 2021 and March 2022 with enhanced frozen programs that are outselling existing stores by a strong lead. So, we’re circling back to existing stores with those enhancements to boost the category across all locations.”

Fun flavors are a major sales driver in the frozen dispensed beverages subcategory. “Rotating flavors to maintain variety can keep the frozen beverage experience fresh for repeat customers and interesting to newer shoppers,” Gough said.

Find out more on how frozen dispensed beverages fared last year in this month’s Category Close Up column “Frosty Fun” in the digital issue of NACS Magazine.

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