Convenience store (c-store) visits remained stable and total channel sales were up in the second calendar quarter of 2012 compared to same quarter year ago, according to market research firm The NPD Group. NPD's convenience store research finds that there were 2.2 billion visits to c-stores in the quarter, which was about the same traffic level as in Q2 2011, and aggregate channel sales were up 5.9 percent quarter-over-quarter.

Visits were up 2 percent at small and other c-store chains, but were down as much at major oil chain c-stores in the second quarter, according to NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. Traditional c-stores realized a 1 percent drop in visits and traffic was flat at conventional convenience stores in the second quarter.

Morning traffic to c-stores declined by 4.5 percent, mid-day traffic increased by 5.5 percent, and visits in the afternoon day part grew by 1.9 percent in the second quarter.

"Stable is a good place for the c-store channel to be right now given the current state of the economy," says David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD's convenience store research. "Although the channel appears to be bucking hints of a double-dip recession, consumers are still evaluating purchases for value and necessity and, as a result, c-store retailers and manufacturers will need to offer and promote value."

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