ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Convenience store sales increase over the hot summer months and retailers are saying that the Fourth of July holiday weekend may the busiest weekend of the year, especially for customers buying beverages or bags of ice needed to keep drinks chilled.
Convenience store sales increase as the weather heats up. Store sales from June through August are 4.5% higher than the rest of the year, according to sales data from the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). And the sales of packaged beverages — soda, water, juices, teas and sports and energy drinks — are 18% higher over the hot summer months. Convenience stores account for more than 42% of all packaged beverage sales in the country, factoring in all sales from convenience stores, grocery, drug and mass merchandisers, according to Nielsen data.
Convenience stores also sell the majority of beer purchased in the country (59%) when examining the same sales universe, and beer sales at convenience stores increase 9% over the summer months as Americans stock coolers for backyard cookouts or vacations.
Throughout the year, Americans are more likely to visit a convenience store to quench a thirst than for any other reason. Nearly half of all convenience store customers (49%) said that they primarily stopped to purchase a beverage on their most recent visit, according to a national consumer survey conducted by NACS.
Not surprisingly, ice sales also are extremely strong over the summer months. Approximately two-thirds of all sales of bagged ice occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the International Packaged Ice Association. And, of course, convenience stores are the top destination to purchase bagged ice. Convenience stores sell an estimated 45% of all packaged ice purchased, or $1.9 billion overall.
Add in $8.8 billion in sales for fountain beverages and another $1.2 billion for frozen dispensed beverages (Slurpees, Slush Puppies, Icees, etc.) and it’s no surprise that convenience store sales heat up as Americans seek to cool down.
“With all of the cold drinks and ice sold at convenience stores, it makes perfect sense that the convenience store industry was founded by an ice company,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives. In 1927 the Southland Ice Dock in Dallas, Texas, began selling milk, bread and ice for customers who needed convenience items after the local grocery stores closed at 5:00 pm. The ice dock’s extended hours of 7:00 am to 11:00 pm ultimately factored into the company’s new name: 7-Eleven.
“Whether over the Fourth of July weekend or any time this summer, Americans can be sure to quench their thirst with cold drinks and ice at convenience stores,” said Lenard.