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NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience stores have the growth advantage over food, drug and mass-merchandise (FDM) retailers when it comes to general merchandise, according to new data and analysis provided to Convenience Store News by Nielsen.
Dollar sales of general merchandise rose 3 percent for c-stores in the 52 weeks ended Aug. 29, compared to just 1.1-percent growth for FDM during the same timeframe.
Sales increases in the various general merchandise segments are not uniform across the board, with some segments posting particularly strong increases. For instance, sales of phone accessories are up 16 percent in dollar sales and 43 percent in unit sales over the previous year. This may be prompted by the fact that nearly 20 percent of consumers' monthly budgets are going to communications services, Nielsen noted.
Time of year also makes a difference in general merchandise performance. Dollar sales of smoking accessories saw its largest jumps in March and July, increasing nearly 5 percent from the previous months, and saw the steepest month-to-month declines in November and February down approximately 2.3 percent. Dollar sales of seasonal goods saw its largest increases in November and January and the largest decrease in April.
C-store competition for general merchandise doesn't just come from existing brick-and-mortar retailers, according to Nielsen. Digital retailers are also competitors to c-stores, and successful companies will be those that understand the unique needs of increasingly diverse consumer segments, which more and more play out at a very local level.