CHICAGO – U.S. convenience stores sales overall surged 9.3% to $601.1 billion in 2017, led by a 14.9% increase in fuel sales. Convenience stores sales overall were 3.2% of the overall U.S. gross domestic product of $18.57 trillion (2016 data). Put another way, one of every 30.9 dollars spent in the country was spent at a convenience store in 2017.
The sales increase at convenience stores last year was largely because of higher gas prices in (up 12.8% to $2.38 in 2017) and a 1.9% increase in gallons sold.
Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States and while fuel sales account for 61% of sales dollars, fuels margins are still relatively slim and fuels only account for 38% of total profit dollars at convenience stores. Overall, convenience store profits were $10.4 billion, a 1.6% increase over 2016.
Meanwhile, in-store sales increased 1.7% to a record $237.0 billion.
Foodservice, a broad category that mostly includes prepared food (69% of both category sales and profits) but also commissary foods and hot, cold and frozen dispensed beverages, continues to be a key focus for growth in the convenience store channel.
Foodservice sales overall in 2017 were $53.3 billion, accounting for 22.5% of in-store sales in 2017 and 33.9% of gross profit dollars. The category also was the biggest differentiator in terms of profits: top-quartile performers had prepared food sales that were 3.6 times greater than bottom-quartile stores; coffee sales at top performers were 5.2 times greater that than those of the bottom quartile.
Convenience stores sell 23.8% of packaged beverages in the United States per Nielsen and saw a slight 0.4% sales increase in 2017. Within the category, enhanced water saw the strongest sales increase (9.1%); ready-to-drink iced teas (3.5%), alternative beverages (3.5%) and bottled water (0.6%) also posted sales increases.
Snacking categories all had sales growth, as salty snacks (up 5.6%), candy (up 2.6%) and alternative snacks (up 2.0%) all had strong growth as some consumers, especially millennials, moved toward snacking and away from traditional meals.
Download the infographic, “Record Year for Convenience Stores.” (PDF)