JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While some headlines have predicted that brick-and-mortar retailers are going through a “retail apocalypse,” the convenience store segment has been booming, the Jacksonville Business Journal reports. Within the Jacksonville, Fla., area, local chains Gate Petroleum and First Coast Energy have opened more stores, along with national player Wawa entering with its first locations.
Recently, CREW Jacksonville, a local chapter of CREW Network, which helps women in commercial real estate network, sponsored a panel talk on convenience store growth for around 75 members. Moderated by Dave Wienand, co-founder of Incisiv, panelists included Wawa’s Regional Real Estate Manager Bryan L. Duke, NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard and Colliers International Executive Vice President Jason Ryals.
Panelists emphasized the changing nature of convenience stores from a fueling option to foodservice option. “The industry is changing rapidly and change is needed,” Wienand said.
Lenard pointed out that 81% of what convenience stores sell is consumed immediately. Several years ago, 71% of consumers indicated that gas prices were their primary reason for stopping at a c-store. In 2017, that number had dropped to 51%, while cleanliness and brand loyalty rose in importance, Lenard said.
Wawa will continue to expand its presence in northeast Florida, with plans to open as many as 40 new locations. Ryals added that he first thinks about convenience stores whenever property at a heavily trafficked corner area comes up for sale.
Lenard reminded the attendees that convenience stores will continue to evolve to meet the needs of today’s consumers, even in the face of competition from other retailers.