As we approach the 2017 NACS Show at McCormick Place in Chicago this week, there is positive news circling in the convenience store industry. Food sales are driving overall sales in convenience stores, according to a survey of U.S. retailers released by NACS. This may not be surprising given that fresh, convenient food has been a center-stage hot topic over the past few years. What may be surprising, however, is operators’ positivity about how well their businesses are performing leading into the fourth quarter—75% of retailers are optimistic, and fresh food sales are a factor.
“We are becoming well known for awesome food, clean facilities and great customer service,” Don Burd of Otter Creek Country Stores Inc. told NACS. He wasn’t just speaking about his own company; convenience stores are achieving new levels of brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Here are some other “good-vibe” stats from the survey heading into the biggest industry event of the year:
- 60% of retailers believe that in-store sales in the first nine months of 2017 were higher than the year-ago period
- 76% say that they are optimistic about the economy in the fourth quarter, compared to only 53% of retailers last year.
- 73% of retailers say they are optimistic about the convenience store industry’s prospects leading into 2018.
Still, any operator knows how quickly the market and competitive landscape can change. Case in point is Kroger’s recent stock market struggle following the Amazon-Whole Foods acquisition. Now, Kroger has made its own bold announcement to revamp its in-store shopping experience and to possibly sell its convenience store business, which generates $4 billion in annual sales. The market responded and Kroger’s stock skyrocketed.
If Kroger does decide to sell its c-stores, could a new industry player—perhaps another grocer or another online company—disrupt the industry?
While NACS’ survey didn’t delve into possible industry disruptors, it did inquire about operators’ specific concerns. They cited high insurance costs, a shrinking labor pool, and increased competition as possible stumbling blocks to growth. These concerns, among others, are enough to drive more than half of operators (60%) to this year’s NACS Show. They’ll be looking not only for new foodservice equipment, but also for ways to drive operational efficiencies. This is where new, mobile-based technologies like Zenput will play a crucial role.
Zenput offers an easy-to-use platform with tools that help assign tasks, track them and improve stores over time, from daily store audits, to food safety checklists, to chain-wide rollouts. And at this year’s NACS Show, we’ll be exhibiting with some of our latest features for foodservice operators.
If you want to gain more insights into your stores, come visit us at booth #3575 in the Technology section. We’ll be happy to chat with you!
Also be sure to check out Zenput CEO Vladik Rikhter’s talk on Wednesday morning, Oct. 18, during a session called “TechEdge: It’s Time to Mobilize Your Workforce and Use Technology to Increase Operations Efficiency.” Vladik will discuss ways to report the impact of mobilization on efficiency across your organization to leadership—as well as mobilization’s direct effect on profits—and how to change both employee and customer behaviors. Learn more about the session on NACS’ website.
We look forward to seeing you at the show!