Or they don’t exist, since c-stores up the ante on delivery food quality and convenience.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Convenience stores could take market share from quick service restaurants (QSRs), Forbes reports. Food sales in c-stores increased by more than 20%, according to new research from Cardlytics, and the industry share of food sales increased from 18.42% to 21 ,39% since 2019.
Cardlytics says c-stores have the edge for food service options because of faster preparation time, more variety and shorter wait times. The average wait at a QSR is about seven minutes, but it’s only four minutes on average to get your food at a convenience store.
According to data from the State of the Industry NACS, food services will account for 22.5% of in-store sales in 2021 – significantly higher than the 16.8% reported a decade ago. Food service now makes up 35.5% of gross profits in the store, compared to 29.2% in 2011. Additionally, a robust food service offering was the biggest predictor of profit in the store; stores in the top decile for in-store operating profit had food service gross profits that were seven times those in the bottom decile.
“At least some of those gains appear to be coming from the QSR category, intensifying an already competitive space,” Forbes suggests.
Forbes writes that the convenience factor is a reason that influences the growth of the industry market in the sale of food. “As c-stores update their food service offerings to be on par with QSRs, consumers may be more likely to choose the option that is most convenient for them,” writes Forbes. “Speed is a factor, but also the location (consider the 7-Eleven footprint) and additional offers, such as gas or beer. For the latter, the scale will always tip in favor of c-stores.”
According to Bluedot research, nearly 60% of consumers believe that convenience stores are on par with QSRs. Seventy percent of consumers enter convenience stores before or after purchasing gas, and more than half of customers buy snacks, while 20% buy grocery items and 16% get alcoholic beverages.
The lines between c-stores and QSRs have been blurred for years, Forbes says, and in some cases, the line doesn’t exist. Forbes points to Sheetz, Wawa and 7-Eleven, which offer drive-thru and pickup, and are far from the only convenience stores that offer these services.
7-Eleven opened its Evolution stores with outdoor patios to accompany its food service offerings, including its Laredo Taco Company concept. The stores also offer self-service espresso machines, as well as delivery services from Grubhub, DoorDash and the like, “deepening into QSR territory.” (NACS’ Ideas 2 Go video series visited 7-Eleven’s Evolution Store in Dallas. See why customers who visit an Evolution store quickly recognize the food and beverage experience that 7-Eleven cultivates.)
Of course, 7-Eleven is one of the many convenience stores that are revolutionizing the food service game. Find out more in the NACS Ideas 2 Go video series. In “Think Like a Restauranteur” in the October issue of NACS magazine, convenience food service professionals share their views on what makes a successful food service business. Also not to be missed, “Competition with QSRs” in the May issue.
For those new to convenience foodservice, check out the NACS Certified Convenience Foodservice Management Online Training Series powered by NACS eTraining partner Ready Online Training. Retail operators can now earn a Certified Convenience Foodservice Management (CCFM) designation by completing a 10-course online training series that addresses key aspects of developing and growing a foodservice offering. success