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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Consumers are voting in favor of convenience stores.
In a recent national consumer survey from NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, 71 percent of consumers surveyed said c-stores are a good fit with their community's values. An even higher percentage (77 percent) said they would be "very" or "somewhat" favorable toward a new c-store being opened in their area.
Younger consumers ages 18-34 are overwhelmingly more favorable toward c-stores than any other age group. Of these consumers, 82 percent said that a c-store is a good fit with their community; 90 percent said they are favorable to a new c-store; and 37 percent said they would be "very favorable."
In a similar hand, consumers with children are more favorable to a new c-store than consumers without children. Approximately 85 percent of consumers who have at least one child under the age of 18 living at home said they would be favorable to a new c-store opening in their area, and 36 percent said they would be "very favorable."
Those who are favorable said new c-stores could have positive economic effects on the community, such as more competition for local businesses and more jobs, while others said they could use another store closer to their homes for more convenience.
Unfavorable consumers cited two changes that would make them more favorable to a store opening: if the new store offered competition on local gas prices (28 percent), or if the new store became an outlet for fresh and healthy products (19 percent).
When it comes to the number of convenience stores in their community, 58 percent of consumers said there are "about the right amount," with the remainder evenly split between "too many stores" and "not enough stores" (21 percent).
Consumers who live in suburban areas are least likely to say there are "not enough" stores in the area (16 percent) vs. urban consumers (21 percent). Rural consumers (31 percent) are the most likely to say there aren't enough stores.
Overall, a majority of consumers (56 percent) said that they would be more likely to shop at a c-store if that store participated in local community projects or donated to charitable causes, up from the 51 percent who said the same in September 2015. Two in three (67 percent) consumers with children say they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store that contributed to local community or charitable causes.
Trends Toward Healthy
Consumers are becoming more aware of the c-store industry's efforts to provide fresh, healthy food. Six in 10 consumers (60 percent) agreed that "convenience stores are responding to consumer demand, and are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes." A slight, yet significant higher percentage of consumers ages 18-34 (71 percent) and consumers with children (72 percent) agreed with this sentiment.
When it comes to purchasing snacks, 35 percent of consumers said they've considered "healthy choices" in the past year, but there is a significant difference between genders in what they think about food at c-stores. Women (39 percent) are more likely than men (31 percent) to have purchased more healthy choices; however, 69 percent of men agree that c-stores "offer food I feel comfortable eating" vs. 58 percent of women.
"Convenience stores are more closely tied to their local communities than any other retail channel and that's something that consumers increasingly recognize — and reward," said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.
The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland. During the month of August, 1,149 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed.