Although a number of c-stores have enhanced their food offerings to compete with limited-service concepts, a tightened grip on consumer spending and a historically soft December contributed to a decline in c-store visits during Q4 2013.
According to The NPD Group, the drop in traffic was despite favorable gas prices and improved consumer confidence. Traffic was down 3 percent compared to the same period in 2012.
Also, visits to traditional c-store chains and major oil chains remained stable, but steady traffic at these two channels was not enough to offset the declines at small/other chains where visits were down 8.7 percent, and conventional chains, which saw traffic decline by 2.7 percent, according to a news release. Those consumers who visited c-stores in the last quarter of 2013 made an average of 6 visits per person in a 30-day period, which is similar to the same period the year prior.
"It will remain a challenging and competitive environment in 2014 and retailers will continue to fight for dollars," April Moffa, NPD convenience store industry analyst, said in the release. "C-stores can hold on to their base with the right product mix, selection, and quality, all of which are growing reasons why consumers choose the stores they do."