They sell roller-grill hot dogs. They sell Twinkies. And now they sell organic cold-pressed juice. The few extra minutes the shopper gets to keep — those the convenience stores are giving away.
And this is why convenience stores are able to crowd into supermarket territory with the sale of fresh and prepared foods. Responding to the demand for healthier grab-n’-go fare, more convenient stores, including Wawa, 7-Eleven and Pilot Flying J, are stocking up on fresh fruits, organics and just-prepared meals. Some are even partnering with celebrity chefs.
In doing so, the industry is proving it could grab and go with more than a small portion of the supermarket industry’s market share. Fruit and vegetable sales alone generate nearly $240 million annually among the sector, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores. Total sales among c-stores rose nearly 9% in 2018, to $654.3 billion.
That represents the 16th consecutive year for record in-store sales.
Yes, They Have Bananas — Organic Bananas
By some predictions, that c-store growth is sustainable. By 2026, convenience stores and other non-traditional food sellers could capture $200 billion to $700 billion in grocery sales, according to a recent report by McKinsey.
Supermarkets are catching on: Some are adding small-format locations and near-the-door grab-and-go options, and click-and-collect is pretty much standard. Kroger, before selling its 762-convenience-store operations in 2018, appears to have installed convenience store amenities within its supermarkets. Some include food court-style areas with counter-front offerings that range from BBQ to Mexican.