Industry Data Trends: The New State of the Industry
We’ve all seen reports about the resilience of the convenience store industry, but by comparing store performance from Spring 2020 to now, we can show you by just how much. Despite tough circumstances, the industry has made (and sustained) some big gains!
Market Basket Size Spiked, and Stayed Larger
With the onset of the pandemic in March 2020 the average market basket size jumped nearly 10% as c-store shopping behavior transitioned from quick, immediate consumption purchases to stock up, future consumption purchases in order to minimize trip frequency. This behavior has largely remained unchanged throughout the pandemic. In fact, if you look at the two weeks prior to the National Health Emergency announcement on March 13th, 2020, compared to that same time period this year, market baskets are on average 5% larger.
In-Store Revenue Higher than 2020, Fuel Visits Inching Back to Normal
While there were slight disruptions in in-store revenue as the pandemic began, consumers continued to rely heavily on the convenience store channel. Despite a challenging economy, and taking normal seasonal revenue fluctuations into account, overall average monthly in-store revenue consistently outperformed the previous year. And things continue to look up! Zeroing in on March, there was a 20% increase in average in-store revenue from 2020 to 2021.
We see in-store revenue jump 24% from February 2021 to March 2021, compared to a 10% jump between February and March 2020. With economic stimulus, a speedy vaccine rollout, and states easing restrictions, consumer spending has surged in most retail channels. Grocery stores posted almost 10% growth between February and March of this year, and general merchandise stores increased revenue by 24% MOM!
March and April monthly in-store sales more closely resembled in-store sales usually only seen in the summertime. While we expect in-store sales to level out, independent c-stores are shaping up to have an exceptional 2021.
As we all know, there was a huge drop off in gasoline demand as the pandemic began. The month prior to the National Health Emergency announcement on March 13th, 2020, weekly fuel visits per store averaged around 1,675 transactions, and during the same time period in 2021, the average was 1,575 transactions, a 6% decrease. However, since the pandemic began demand has slowly been crawling back, with the average number of weekly fuel visits surpassing 2020 levels in mid-March.
To sum it up, this is all good news for convenience retailers! As vaccine distribution continues, more of the workforce returns to their offices, and consumers feel more confident in the economy, we can expect these upward trends to continue throughout 2021.