Whether it’s a quick stop for fuel that leads to a grab-and-go meal, packaged snack or a beverage, converting fuel customers to in-store shoppers is crucial to C-store success. Analysts predict the C-store market will grow at a CAGR of 6.29% between 2022-2027 increasing by $806.4 billion. That’s a lot of burgers.
Understanding how C-store shoppers are spending differently in 2024 can get your store a bigger piece of the pie. Here are three ways C-stores can set themselves up for success to increase in-store sales in 2024.
Elevate C-Store Menus to Align with Food Trends
Consumer palates have expanded. And in response, so have offerings at local supermarkets, restaurants and QSRs. To remain competitive, C-stores should also expand menu offerings, both hot food and take-home items, to encourage additional in-store meal purchases. The National Restaurant Association reports the top food trends for 2024 to include things like world stage stews, global chicken wings and plant-based alternatives along with trending foods from social media. And if you build it, they will come. Research shows 60% of people consider C-stores to be food destinations with 25% regularly visiting them for lunch.
Understand How Evolving Shopper Goals Differ Throughout the Day
Shoppers have different goals (and baskets) depending on when they visit a C-store. Research from Gas Buddy found morning rush and lunch shoppers are efficient and more likely to purchase food while late afternoon/early evening shoppers are more likely to purchase candy or alcohol and spend more time inside the store. Using forecourt signage and loyalty programs, C-stores can improve the in-store experience while increasing basket size.
Focus on the Forecourt
The National Association for Convenience Stores (NACS) reports 80% of all U.S.-sold fuel is purchased at a convenience store. But unfortunately, store trips are down 1.7% in 2023, while sales are up 2.2% and prices are up 4.1% (due to inflation).
A positive forecourt experience can lead more shoppers inside C-stores and contribute to brand loyalty. Consider adding forecourt amenities like windshield service centers (also available for semi-trucks), which can help keep vehicles clean and drivers safe this winter. The forecourt should also contain clean, branded trash and recycling receptacles for shoppers to dispose of their cup holder trash stash or wrappers from in-store snacks or beverages. A positive perception in the parking lot can lead more shoppers to enter the store, which can drastically increase their chance of additional in-store purchases.
A clean, amenity-rich C-store attracts repeat visitors and converts those purchasing fuel to come inside and purchase items like fresh food, packaged beverages, candy and more. Create an attractive in-store and forecourt experience with site furnishing from Commercial Zone. From comfortable benches to attractive planters, branded waste receptacles to helpful windshield service centers, Commercial Zone has the products your C-store needs to attract customers and improve sales.