OPERATIONS

Report: C-store saw traffic bumps in 2012

BY Katherine Boccaccio

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.”

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Report: Google planning to open retail stores

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Google is planning to open freestanding retail stores in the United States, with the first flagship locations open in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season, according to a report by online site 9to5Google.

“Google feels right now that many potential customers need to get hands-on experience with its products before they are willing to purchase," the website reported.

According to the report, Google wants to give consumers the opportunity not only to test out its existing branded products, but also the chance to see close up its upcoming technology, such as Google Glasses.

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Best Buy to make holiday price-matching permanent year round

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Best Buy Co. is making its holiday price-matching guarantee a year-round program. Taking aim against the increasingly popular practice of “showrooming,” the consumer electronics chain will match online prices starting March 3.

Best Buy’s permanent price match has been expanded to cover almost all categories of merchandise. It does not cover phones purchased under contract.

Best Buy will also decrease its merchandise return policy from 30 days to 15 days

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