Consumers Recognize Community Benefits of Convenience Stores

Younger consumers overwhelmingly have a favorable attitude toward c-stores.

October 18, 2016

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Nearly three in four (71%) Americans say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values, and an even higher percentage (77%) say they would be “very” or “somewhat” favorable toward a new convenience store being opened in their area, according to a national consumer survey released today by NACS.

Younger consumers (ages 18-34) are overwhelmingly more favorable toward convenience stores than other age groups. More than eight in 10 (82%) consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values. Fully 90% say they are favorable to a new convenience store, and more than one in three (37%) say they would be “very favorable.” Consumers with children are also more favorable to new convenience stores than consumers without children—85% of consumers who have at least one child under the age of 18 living at home say they would be favorable to a new convenience store opening in their area and 36% say they would be “very favorable.” 

“Convenience stores are more closely tied to their local communities than any other retail channel and that’s something that consumers increasingly recognize—and reward,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

Consumers favorable to new stores cited positive economic effects, such as more competition for local businesses and more jobs, while others say they could use another store closer to their homes for greater convenience. Those unfavorable to new stores say that stores “offering competition on local gas prices” (28%) and “becoming an outlet for fresh and healthy products” (19%) would help to make them more favorable to a new store opening in their area. 

Nearly three in five (58%) Americans say there are “about the right amount” of convenience stores in their community, with the remainder evenly split between “too many stores” (21%) and “not enough stores” (21%). Consumers in suburban areas are least likely to say there are “not enough” stores in their area (16%) compared to urban consumers (21%). Rural consumers are most likely to say there are “not enough” stores (31%). 

Overall, a majority of consumers say that they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store if that store participated in local community projects or donated to charitable causes (56%), up from the 51% who said the same in September 2015. Two in three (67%) consumers with children say they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store that contributed to local community or charitable causes.

Consumers are also more aware of the convenience store industry’s efforts to provide fresh, healthy food. Six in 10 Americans (60%) agree that “convenience stores are responding to consumer demand, and are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes.” Even higher percentages of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 (71%) and those with children (72%) agree that convenience stores are offering healthier choices.

More than one in three (35%) consumers say they have purchased more snacks considered “healthy choices” in the past year, but there is a significant difference between genders in what they think about food at convenience stores. Women are more likely than men to say they have purchased more “healthy choices” in the past year (39% versus 31%). However, more than two in three men (69%) agree that convenience stores “offer food I feel comfortable eating,” compared with three in five women (58%).