Houston -- A report released Tuesday by research company NPD Group found that the convenience store sector experienced marked gains last year, as visits increased 4.6% in the fourth quarter and grew an average of 3.7% per month for 2012.
Traffic gains were spread among all type of c-stores, according to NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S.
Traditional c-store traffic increased 0.7%, major oil chains garnered a 3.2% growth, and small/other chains had the strongest growth in traffic at 11.5% compared to the year-ago quarter.
The afternoon daypart, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., continues to be the most popular daypart with slightly more than 35% of c-store shoppers visiting then, a 1.7% increase over same quarter a year ago. In addition, the afternoon daypart realized a nearly 10% growth in traffic in the quarter.
Ticket averages increased as well, as consumers spent 31 cents more in fourth quarter 2012, compared to 2011.
“Although the c-store channel outlook is positive for 2013, it remains to be seen if this continues and carries on through the coming year,” said David Portalatin, NPD c-store industry analyst. “2013 is starting out a bit challenging for consumers with the realization of the imposed payroll tax increase, severe weather, and rising gasoline prices all providing added stress, but we’ll see how the remainder of the year shakes out.”