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    Beverages, Foodservice Top Ways to Get Fuel Customers Inside

    NACS report finds beverages remain the top reason consumers enter a c-store, but food is nipping at its heels.

    ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Beverage purchases are still No. 1 when it comes to converting gas pump sales into convenience store sales, but foodservice is quickly catching up, according to the 2012 NACS Consumer Fuels Report. The study shows 48 percent of gas purchasers never set foot in a c-store. However, among the remaining 52 percent, one out of every four customers said they regularly purchase drinks.

    Broken down further, 33 percent of beverage purchasers do so in the morning. Also, customers aged 18 to 24 are most likely to purchase drinks, the report revealed. Forty-three percent of customers in that age group said they purchase beverages in the store, while only 19 percent of consumers aged 50 or older reported doing so.

    Despite the continued allure of beverages, foodservice is catching up quickly as a top reason for customers to enter a c-store. According to NACS' research, 28 percent of those surveyed said they would be "very likely" or "somewhat likely" to buy food at a c-store. Nine percent of respondents said they had eaten food at a c-store within the past day, and 43 percent said they purchased c-store food within the last month.

    Traditional snacking items in convenience stores remain the most popular food choices. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they purchased chips and salty snacks. That was followed by candy bars (20 percent); yogurt, nuts or granola (9 percent); salad (5 percent); and fresh fruit (5 percent).

    Healthy items are not dominant among c-store purchases, but consumers like having them available. According to NACS, 63 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to shop at a store that offers healthy options.

    "Convenience and fuel retailers know that consumers are extremely price sensitive when it comes to gasoline, and determining the link between gas and in-store purchases was a central question that NACS sought to answer in the 2012 NACS Consumer Fuels Report," said John Eichberger, NACS' vice president of government relations.

    NACS will announce more findings from its 2012 Consumer Fuels Report throughout this month.

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