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    Difficult Economy Batters C-stores

    Exclusive CSNews survey reveals: 60 percent report decline in third quarter sales, but 70 percent expect fourth quarter results to be same or better than a year ago.

    NEW YORK -- An exclusive survey conducted by Convenience Store News at the end of last year revealed the financial results of c-store retailers were hammered by the poor national economy during the third quarter of 2008.

    According to the survey, based on respondents from 59 c-store retailers representing retailers of all sizes, 61.2 percent of retailers said their sales for the third quarter (July through September) were lower than they were in the same period a year ago. Only 10 percent said their third quarter sales were the same as a year ago, while 28.8 percent said their July to September 2008 sales were higher than they were in 2007.

    Asked to describe the impact of the nation’s economic conditions on their business, nearly half cited lower transaction amounts inside the store. Another 47 percent said the poor economy contributed to lower shopper traffic counts inside the store as well.

    Retailers were a little more optimistic about their fourth quarter results. About 46 percent said sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 will be about the same as they were in 2007, while 29 percent said they expect lower sales and 25 percent expect higher sales than a year ago.

    The survey also asked retailers about how suppliers could help them improve sales in the coming year. Two-thirds of retailers said suppliers should provide more special deals, such as buy-one, get-one free to help improve sales of products. The other most often mentioned suggestions were: provide in-store merchandising/marketing ideas, lower prices and other types of promotional support.

    Retailers also pointed out the positive influence of supplier marketing. A little more than half of retailers said seeing supplier product advertising in trade magazines, Web sites and newsletters makes them want to trial these new products; while 46 percent said these ads remind them of the value of these products in gaining customer satisfaction.

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