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Some of Your Smallest, But Most Important C-Store Products

Customers stop at convenience stores to get a variety of things: gas, food, coffee, soda, tobacco products, but have you ever thought about what products make your c-store so valuable? People don’t go to convenience stores to shop around like they would at a grocery store. They go in looking for a specific product. Often it’s an unplanned trip to buy something they’ve forgotten or needed suddenly.

As we mentioned in our last blog, product trends can change depending on the region. However, these products sell well at almost any c-store.

Tobacco Products

According to NACS your leader in sales are cigarettes. Majority (63.4%of tobacco products are sold in convenience stores with 80.5% of them being premium brands. Some of the most popular brands are:

  • Marlboro (14%)
  • Newport (13%)
  • Camel (8%)

While cigarettes are still in the lead for the most popular item sold in convenience stores, e-cigarettes have grown popular. Specifically for the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, whose sales increased by almost 800 percent over the last year. Other tobacco products such as smokeless (dip, chew, snuff) account for 60.5% and cigars 27.9% in the category of "other tobacco products".

Make sure you’re in a region where cigarette sales are still doing well. Due to increasing taxes on tobacco products in the northeast, stores have seen their cigarettes sales decrease.

Packaged Beverages

Packaged beverages were the third largest in sales.

  • Carbonated soft drinks (29.6%)
  • Alternative (26.8%)
  • Bottles water (10.9%)
  • Sports Drinks (9.7%)

Alternative drinks sales are very close to passing the sales of sodas. Sodas and sports drinks have seen a decline in sales, but iced tea and enhanced water sales have gone up. Consumers want healthy alternatives for their drinks which is why we are seeing alternative drink sales increase.  Some popular brands for alternative drinks would be: Vitamin Water, Bai, and Sparkling Ice. Consumers looking for an alternative drink to soda are willing to spend the extra money for the health benefit.

Lottery Tickets

Lottery is legal in 44 states and for those 44 states, is a huge profit for convenience stores. Americans spend over $66 billion on lottery tickets every year. 

You might be wondering why lottery tickets are important to your sales. Retailers only make about a 5% profit for each lottery ticket sold. The real profit comes from the other products customers buy when they’re buying a lottery ticket. In fact, 95% of lottery customers buy at least one additional item inside the store. Some of the most popular things bought with lottery tickets are:

  • Newspapers (112% more likely to be purchased with lottery)
  • Bakery items (68%)
  • Cigarettes (60%)
  • Coffee (59%)
  • Soda (56%)
    Try keeping a few sodas, newspapers, or bakery items near the cash register. This is an easy way to ensure that they buy          more than what they initially came for.

Over the Counter Drugs

This is one of the products that customers stop to buy unplanned. When people realize they might be getting sick and stop at the closest convenience store to stop the cold before it starts. This is especially convenient for customers who are traveling and need a quick remedy.

Drug stores are typically not opened passed 10 pm which is what makes this product so important. Customers know they can rely on convenience stores at any time to be opened to grab medicine. Aspirin, cough medicine, allergy pills, and sinus medication are good products to have. For medicine, it’s less about having a variety of brands and more about having the product available.

Toiletries and other personal essentials

This is especially for people traveling or for someone who suddenly ran out of the product and need to stop somewhere without waiting in the long line. Some good products to keep on stock would be: 

  • Shampoo
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant 

For these products, it's best to keep "travel sized" options instead. Customers who stop at convenience stores for these items only need a small amount because it is only a temporary solution. 

Convenience store stops are usually an alternative to going to the grocery store.  This is because of the speed and convenience c-stores have to offer. Customers like being able to buy a few small products without the hassle of a long line. Lottery tickets, over the counter drugs, toiletries, tobacco, and packaged beverages are just a few of the small products customers love about your convenience store. 

in Building Your Business, Consumer Trends, C-Store Trends
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