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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite some concerns that other alcohol beverages are gaining ground on beer, new research indicates beer sales are increasing in the convenience channel.
According to the Beer Institute, beer sales in convenience stores rose by 1.3 percent in 2011, totaling more than $16.7 billion in sales. In addition, convenience stores were responsible for nearly 17 percent of total beer sales in 2011, comprising the largest share of off-premise sales last year.
"Convenience stores offer beer consumers accessible, speedy service," said Joe McClain, president of the Beer Institute. "Convenience stores are growing in numbers, opening for longer hours, and offering a wide variety of brand options to our consumers. Growing convenience store beer sales show that consumers appreciate the ease of service this channel provides."
The rise in c-store beer sales comes at a time when the industry itself is seeing notable growth. The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 148,126 stores as of Dec, 31, 2011, a 1.2-percent increase from the previous year. Based on these figures and U.S. Census data, there is approximately one convenience store per every 2,100 residents.
"Our strong performance in 2011, including beer sales, shows that our industry's core convenience offer -- especially one-stop shopping and speed of service for refreshments, food and fuel -- continues to resonate with our customers and attract shoppers to our stores," said NACS Chairman Tom Robinson, president of Robinson Oil Corp.
Overall, the Beer Institute's numbers show that beer sales ticked up more than 2 percent in 2011, surpassing $98 billion in total retail sales. According to Nielsen, the increase in sales revenue can be attributed to the high-end beer business. The sale of imports, crafts and above-premium beers sold off-premise was up nearly 3 percent.