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No let up in expansion of convenience stores

Even amid today’s evolving retail landscape, convenience stores continue to resonate with shoppers.

The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 154,958 stores as of December 31, 2017, a 0.3% increase (423 stores) from the year prior, according to the 2018 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

The U.S. convenience store count has increased by 55% over the last three decades, according to the report. The store count is significantly higher than other channels of trade, accounting for more than one third (34.4%) of the brick-and-mortar retail universe tracked by Nielsen in the United States.

Among the states, Texas continues to lead in c-store count at 15,813 stores, or more than one in 10 stores in the country. California is second at 11,946 stores, followed by Florida (9,891), New York (8,725), Georgia (6,687), North Carolina (6,235), Ohio (5,686), Michigan (4,962), Pennsylvania (4, 855) and Illinois (4,759). The bottom three states in terms of store count are Alaska (217 stores), Wyoming (355) and Delaware (344).

“Convenience stores saw solid growth in 2017 due to an increased focus on innovation, improved customer experience, assortment variation and healthy investments in food services," said Jeanne Danubio, executive VP of retail lead markets at Nielsen. “All of these factors have enabled convenience stores to meet the needs of consumers, stretching far beyond the pump.”

Seventy-nine percent of convenience stores sell motor fuels, a decrease of 1.0% from 2016. The decline is reflective of retailers evolving their business models to focus more on the in-store, foodservice offer. They are also embracing new store formats and establishing their brands in more urban, walk-up locations.

“This shift must continue to further expand c-store's relevance in today's changing retail landscape,” Danubio said. “As more retailers across channels try to cater to convenience seeking consumers, c-stores will need to continue to innovate and evolve and grow to stay ahead of the curve.”
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