Volume at convenience stores was down 3% in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks consumer purchasing behavior at c-stores for The NPD Group, Chicago.


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According to April Morra, NPD convenience store industry analyst, “It will remain a challenging and competitive environment in 2014, and retailers will continue to fight for dollars. C-stores can hold on to their base with the right product mix, selection and quality, all of which are growing reasons why consumers choose the stores they do.”

The study tracked purchasing behaviors of approximately 50,000 c-store shoppers. Among its findings:

• The number of visits to all c-stores fell 2.7% during the quarter, with traffic remaining stable at traditional c-stores at six per person over a 30-day period while it declined 8.7% at smaller c-store chains, which kept overall volume down — a result of tighter consumer spending and historically soft December sales.

• Customers loyal to one c-store decreased the number of store visits by 1.3%, and those who shop multiple stores reduced their visits by 1.6%. However, the core c-store customer segment — those who visit two or three c-stores and comprise 51% of buyers — increased visit share by more than 3%, the study said.

• Average units purchased per visit were 3.3, which was flat compared with the previous year. • The percentage of customers who bought a specific product remained “somewhat steady” for most categories, except for growth categories like lottery tickets, cigarettes, candy and gum.

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