Summer C-Store Trends

Summer is the time of year when convenience stores dollar sales spike higher than other food channels, especially for salty snacks, grain bars and yogurt products. The salty and grain bar categories show stronger sales in summer months than soft drinks and candy, which may surprise some. 

Other categories that increase in movement during the summer are seeds, nutritional bars, yogurt, trail mix, granola bars, nuts and meat snacks. Summer is all about snacking, and with more people on the road for travel, there are more trips into convenience stores for snack purchases. For the summer of 2016, lower gas prices will only help drive these stops.

Snacks that are either healthy or convenient (or both) are among the fastest growing in sales in c-stores. While traditional indulgences like chocolate, cookies, and chips dominate in sales, their growth rate is slower when compared to healthier options. Doubledigit growth can be seen in items such as popped popcorn, health bars and mini-brownies, which are still indulgent, but have built-in portion control.

Greek yogurt and fresh-cut fruit are also among the most profitable snacks and saw a growth rate of 8.4% in 2015.

More consumers are looking towards convenience stores to make these healthier purchases, with 61% saying they feel c-stores are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes. Nielsen data shows that sales of fresh fruits and vegetables in c-stores grew 10.3%, which is nearly four times the overall 2.7% growth rate of produce sales in the U.S. in 2014.

According to research done by General Mills, the new breakfast/energy/nutrition area should include cereal cups, pastries, granola bars and energy bars. The average recommended size for this section is four to six feet. 

Energy bars not only help support the “healthy snacking for breakfast” trend, but are quick and convenient. Through research, General Mills has discovered that consumers base their bar purchase decisions according to the type of bar (ex. Energy, protein, grain, etc.) and the specific benefits it provides (ex. Health attributes, satiety (filling), etc.). They also found that function, or “bar type” is more important than brand when making a purchase decision.

Bars are purchased during all dayparts, though three-quarters of all bars purchases are consumed in the morning (for meal or snack). These bars are considered, by consumers, to be healthier, on-the-go snack options.

 

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