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FORT LAUDERDALE and JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida's convenience store boom has led to a record number of stores operating within the state, reported the Sun-Sentinel. The total count went from 9,348 in 2011 to 9,910 in 2015, according to the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, a division of the Florida Retail Federation.
"The convenience store industry in Florida continues to see incredible growth," Ned Bowman, director of the association, said in a statement.
South Florida in particular is expected to enjoy even more growth in the next few years. 7-Eleven Inc. is already a major player there with 121 stores. Chains in the process of expanding include Atlanta-based RaceTrac Petroleum Inc., which has approximately 16 stores in the region and plans to open five more there each year through 2019, and Framingham, Mass.-based Cumberland Farms Inc., whose most recent new store opened earlier this month in Deerfield Beach.
Pennsylvania-based Wawa Inc. is also focused on southern Florida. Its first Florida store opened in Orlando in 2012, with more than 80 stores following. In 2015, Wawa stated it planned to open more than 120 stores in the region between 2017 and 2022.
Wawa is also looking to grow in northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, where the chain plans to open 20 to 25 locations as early as 2017. One store is already under contract, and Wawa is actively looking for other sites, reported the Jacksonville Business Journal.
"Jacksonville is a great area," Lori Bruce, spokeswoman for Wawa, told the news outlet. "It has everything we love about Florida. It's a terrific population. It's on the East Coast, which serves people who move south and know our brand. Florida in general provides us such a wonderful community. We've had an amazing reception."
Wawa currently operates 87 stores in Florida and plans to open 100 more by 2019.