It’s been sixteen straight years of record-breaking in-store sales for the convenience store industry. With a surge in sales primarily driven by fuel sales, growth was also supported by in-store increases across the industry, driving sales to a level accounting for more than 3% of the United States gross domestic product (GDP). In-store growth was primarily driven by foodservice sales and a focus on fresh food programs implemented throughout the industry. Let’s explore the impact fresh foods have had on convenience store sales and whether or not they could remain a driving factor in the overall industry health.

Why Focus on Fresh Foods?

While 80% of consumers are reported to snack at least once a day, there has also been an increasing demand for more robust foodservice offerings driven by convenience store consumers seeking out healthy yet easily accessible food and beverage options that allow them to maintain and balance increasingly demanding schedules. This has driven many convenience store retailers have taken a food-forward approach, requiring retailers to either remodel around the specialized equipment necessary to properly manage foodservice or build with foodservice as a core service. This strategy has paid off, as overall foodservice made up more than 22% of convenience stores’ in-store sales in 2018, and includes both prepared foods as well as the full mix of groceries, prepackaged foods, and self-serve hot and cold beverages.

Categories With the Biggest Impact

Several categories saw significant increases in dedicated retail space due to increasing demand throughout 2018, and could be indicators of future trends: health bars, fresh fruits and vegetables, prepackaged salads, and nuts and trail mix. These categories saw a 35%-45% increase in sales volume throughout 2018. Overall, healthy snacks and alternative snacks – specifically protein- and energy-rich items – showed significant growth over the last two years, with no signs of slowing down.

Seasonally Appropriate

With demand expected to increase during the summer months especially, as travel increases and fuel consumption increases lead to increased foot traffic, retailers can integrate new healthy beverages and organic energy drinks side-by-side with summer-focused food menus to ensure that their fresh food game is robust enough to meet seasonal consumer demands. Similarly, during months where travel declines, marketing efforts and menus can shift to attracting and increasing the daily patronage of regular customers through rewards programs and special food-focused marketing initiatives.

Tracking Trends to Capitalize On Moneymakers

The approach you take in structuring your convenience store’s fresh food program should be informed by the most comprehensive data available. At Success Systems, we provide our clients with access to a powerful suite of convenience store management software designed to inform and guide your inventory management decisions on a level that can’t be achieved otherwise. Whether it’s mixed nuts or fresh vegan wraps, the software offered by Success Systems can tell you who’s buying it and how often, and make sure you have enough in stock to meet the needs of even the most discerning customers. Schedule a free demo of our services today.