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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- Looking over the numbers from 2011 and 2012, traditional convenience store categories enjoyed two solid years -- with very few exceptions. Come the new year, however, nearly every major product category is expected to experience some pullback in 2013.
Just how much pullback will depend on the category, according to Convenience Store News' economist Maureen Maguire of ThinkResearch. Speaking at the 11th annual CSNews Industry Forecast Council last week, she explained that while the numbers all point toward pullbacks in nearly every section of the c-store, some categories may surprise the industry and do a little better than forecasted.
The cold vault is one area that stands out as a tale of two categories. Malt beverages -- excluding wine coolers -- is expected to finish out 2012 with a strong 4.6-percent volume increase. And while 2013 predictions only call for a slight 1-percent increase in total volume, Maguire noted that the forecast figures for malt beverages are "conservative."
Packaged beverages, on the other hand, are likely to see a weak 2013. Carbonated soft drinks are still struggling to regain their footing in the cold vault, and two other segments -- bottled water and alternative drinks -- are coming off years of exploding growth that they may not be able to sustain.
Tobacco will continue to be a steady performer for convenience stores, with other tobacco products (OTP) emerging as the bright spot. Cigarette numbers remain hard to pin down because of several underlying factors, including differing state taxes, a consistent black market and competition from other channels.
As for candy, non-chocolate is expected to perform better than chocolate in 2013. Rising commodity prices and increased package sizes could finally be catching up with the candy category, according to retailers who attended the CSNews Forecast Council meeting. One area that is growing in the channel is premium candy.
Finally, in the snacks category, health bars are posting impressive numbers for convenience stores -- and are expected to continue to do so -- but they are coming off a small base, Maguire explained.