The mild winter weather across much of the country helped to offset the negative impact that rising gas prices traditionally have had on convenience store (c-store) visits, according to The NPD Group, a market research company. NPD's Convenience Store Monitor reports that in the first calendar quarter of 2012 compared to same quarter year ago, c-store traffic increased by 5 percent from a year ago quarter and by 6 percent at major oil chain c-stores.
C-store consumers continued to pay slightly more for products with average checks increasing to $11.21 in the first quarter of 2012 compared to $11.08 in the same quarter year ago, according to the Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S. At the same time, consumers are not purchasing more products at c-stores with average-unit purchases maintaining at about 3.4 items per visit, the same level as a year ago.
"Overall, the first quarter key metrics for the convenience store channel do not appear to be as dismal as expected in light of higher gas prices," said David Portalatin, NPD's convenience store analyst. "The unseasonable warm winter weather this year compared to the harsh winter last year was certainly a key factor in bringing in more visits and maintaining channel penetration levels."
Research released late last year from Technomic indicated that quick-service concepts are feeling more competitive pressure from c-stores as they expand their foodservice options.
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