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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- 2011 was a year of ups and downs for the convenience store industry, with legislative changes and company reorganizations challenging both single-store owners and major convenience chains alike.
The first quarter's major stories revolved around companies seeking new ways to win customer loyalty as they targeted promising demographics and experimented with menu changes, while high prices and grim economic forecasts caused consumers to hold on tightly to their money.
As winter faded into spring, the battle over debit card fees had everyone's attention, ultimately resulting in a win for the proponents of swipe fee reform. Also, in the second quarter of the year, electronic cigarettes struggled against bans and Sheetz helped hang a price tag on its own hometown of Altoona, Pa., as part of a movie tie-in.
In the third quarter, ConocoPhillips made waves when it announced its split into two companies, prompting rumors later debunked that Royal Dutch Shell might do the same. Low- and no-calorie beverages became a top trend, leading to the launch of products like Dr Pepper Ten and Pepsi Next.
Walmart's experiment with its Marketside stores came to a close in the fourth quarter as the company shuttered all of the locations, while continuing with its Express format. The battle over new graphic cigarette packaging also showed signs of heating up as a federal judge temporarily blocked the use of the graphic images and legislators asked the Food and Drug Administration to fight the injunction.
Below are the top two stories for each month of 2011 based on user views at www.csnews.com. To read the complete story, click on the link below each blurb.
Gas Price Spike Forecast
Oil and gasoline prices increased to their highest levels in two years and may shoot up dramatically in 2011 as the thirst for fuel grows in the United States and around the world. Click here for the full story
CSNews Exclusive: Bottled Water Sales Rebound in 2010
Along with the jobs, housing and retirement funds, sales of bottled water became a victim of the struggling economy, with actual sales dropping 10.2 percent in 2009. Click here for the full story
CPG Industry Eyes Ways to Capture Hispanic Consumers
The CPG industry is getting help from SymphonyIRI Group Inc. and Synovate to find a better way to market to and reach Hispanic consumers. The two companies have teamed to create HispanicLink, a report that aims to provide a representative view of Hispanic shoppers. Click here for the full story
Casey's Fights Subway Over Use of 'Footlong'
Casey's General Stores is asking a federal jury to rule the word "footlong" is not the special property of Subway and its 12-inch-long sub sandwiches. The c-store operator has filed a petition in U.S. District Court seeking a judgment that the term "footlong" is generic and violates nobody's trademark or patent, pending or otherwise. Click here for the full story
Burger King Debuts New Chicken Tenders With National Giveaway
Burger King is relaunching its Chicken Tenders and celebrating the menu update with a massive giveaway of 272 million tenders, the company announced. Customers will be able to redeem mailed coupons for a free four-piece serving with no purchase necessary. Click here for the full story
Food Prices Make Biggest Jump in 36 Years
Wholesale food prices spiked 3.9 percent in February from January, the biggest jump in 36 years, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, citing the U.S. Labor Department. Click here for the full story
Sheetz Helps Hang Price Tag on Hometown
Planning a road trip to Altoona? Well, you better make it fast. On April 27, the city nestled in the Allegheny Mountains will officially change its name to "Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." No need to panic; the move is part of a promotion for Morgan Spurlock's new documentary by the same name, and will only last 60 days. Click here for the full story
Gulf CEO Talks Oil Prices With CNBC
The price of oil is likely nearing a top and will fall beneath $100 a barrel by July 4, Gulf Oil CEO Joe Petrowski told CNBC. Click here for the full story
Owner to Gas Thief: Shame on You
If guilt doesn't stop one driver from stealing gas, maybe shame will. At least that's what one gas retailer in the Moncton area of New Brunswick hopes. This particular driver has a silver Pontiac G-5 and filled up twice in the past two weeks and then left the station without paying, according to Jason Lutes, owner of Esso convenience store and gas station at Magnetic Hill. Click here for the full story
McDonald's Debuts Fresh Look in Tampa
McDonald's may be operating under a new motto: out with the old and in with the new. That's because the quick-service restaurant chain is embarking on a massive remodeling effort, one that is estimated at more than $1 billion and will hit the majority of the 14,000 restaurants in the United States by 2015. Click here for the full story
Senate Votes Down Swipe Fee Delay Bill
The U.S. Senate voted 54 to 45 to pass the Tester-Corker amendment, which called for the delay of swipe fee reform for a minimum of six months for further study. However, the amendment needed to receive 60 votes for adoption. The failure to reach that number could be seen as a victory for the retail industry. Click here for the full story
Electronic Cigarettes Face Smoking Bans
Fresh off winning a key battle with the Food and Drug Administration, the electronic cigarette industry is facing another fight as states, municipalities and even the San Francisco International Airport move to ban the use of the products. Click here for the full story
ConocoPhillips to Split Into Two Companies
ConocoPhillips announced that it will split into two separate publicly traded companies. The split is expected to be completed during the first half of 2012. Click here for the full story
'America's Natural Gas Highway' Moves Into Drive Position
Clean Energy Fuels Corp. plans to open 150 liquid natural gas (LNG) fueling stations at Pilot Flying J Travel Centers throughout the United States, according to CNBC. Click here for the full story
New Beverage Trends Emerge in 2011
Consumers are turning more toward low-calorie or no-calorie drinks, such as vitamin-enhanced waters, according to The Food Channel's Top 10 Beverage Trends for 2011. Click here for the full story
CPG Companies Increasingly Rely on Shopper Marketing
Shopper marketing -- defined as "strategy- and insight-driven in-store or retailer-specific marketing that includes some form of equity-building messaging" -- has become a widely practiced and transformational approach in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, according to the 2011 Futurescope survey from GfK Interscope. Click here for the full story
ConocoPhillips Split to Create $20B in Shareholder Value
Less than two months after announcing it will be spinning off its downstream business, ConocoPhillips is outlining the steps to make that a reality. Click here for the full story
Royal Dutch Will Not Create a 'Shell' Company
Royal Dutch Shell plc has no intention of splitting into two separate companies, its CEO, Peter Voser, told the Wall Street Journal. Click here for the full story
Walmart to Close All Its Marketside Stores
Walmart plans to shut down all of its Marketside stores later this month, according to a Mouth by Southwest report. The locations -- all in Arizona -- will close Oct. 21. Click here for the full story
Shell Eyeing Valero?
Rumors were doing the rounds recently that Royal Dutch Shell could get involved in a possible bidding war for Texas-based Valero Energy, which owns and operates 15 refineries worldwide. Click here for the full story
Lawmakers Urge Appeal of Cigarette Label Ruling
One day after a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the new cigarette warning labels, several legislators are urging the Food and Drug Administration to fight the decision in a letter sent to the Department of Justice. Click here for the full story
Study: 78 Percent of Americans Eat Snack Foods for Lunch
Forty percent of Americans would prefer to reach for snack foods throughout the day instead of eating the traditional three square meals, according to a recent survey. What's more, 78 percent of those surveyed say they indulge in snack foods for lunch, and 55 percent say they reach for a snack in lieu of dinner. Click here for the full story
Weird but True: Music Group Hanson to Release 'MmmHop' Beer
The trio that formed the music group Hanson are launching their own beer. Brothers Isaac, 31, Taylor, 28, and Zac, 26, who shot to the top of the pop charts with their 1997 hit "MmmBop," confirmed at an appearance at The University of Oxford that they would launch an India Pale Ale (IPA). Click here for the full story
Foodservice Brokers, Advantage Sales and Marketing Form New Company
A consortium of U.S. foodservice brokers have teamed up with Advantage Sales and Marketing LLC to form a new company, Advantage Waypoint LLC, with business operations beginning on Jan. 1. Click here for the full story