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Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart Stores Inc., headquartered in Texarkana, Texas, shared her predictions for 2015, including upcoming plans for her company that operates more than 295 c-stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.
Do you believe the overall economy in 2015 will be better, worse or the same as in 2014?
I believe the economy will continue to improve in 2015 as it has been, even if slowly. This will be accelerated in pace if fuel prices continue to remain low as they are expected to [this] year. At a price of $2 per gallon, gasoline is an immediate [income] raise for millions of Americans, and it also instantly frees up funds for discretionary purchases. Those factors benefit the convenience store industry.
Do you believe the c-store industry (sales and profits) will perform better, worse or the same in 2015 compared to 2014?
I do believe we will perform better simply because when fuel prices are lower, consumers tend to take more road trips. They travel more and have more discretionary income for immediate-consumption purchases. In the convenience store industry, we are positioned to fill those consuming needs.
Do you believe your company (sales and profits) will perform better, worse or the same in 2015 compared to 2014?
I do believe our company will benefit for the same reasons of a generally improved economy. We have also built new locations that can better serve consumers. These stores will improve and benefit exponentially more. Now, some locations we have in areas that were experiencing a huge oil boom will decline because of lower oil prices and less activity in the oil field.
What do you foresee as the three major factors/trends that will impact the overall economy in 2015?
Fuel prices have an enormous impact on the general economy, especially in the flyover states in which our company operates because everyone drives. I also believe we will see job creation reduce unemployment, and we will also see consumer confidence improving ? all of which will have an impact on the overall economy.
What do you foresee as the three major factors/trends that will impact the c-store business in 2015?
Three major factors or trends that will impact the c-store business in 2015 include fuel prices, improved employment, and a more favorable regulatory environment that encourages business expansion.
What are your company?s most important initiatives for 2015?
E-Z Mart will continue the remodeling, rebuilding and construction of its locations. We will also implement new software that improves operational efficiency and customer service, and plan to establish a regional commissary to expand our fresh-food offerings.