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NATIONAL REPORT — If the snacks business could be defined by convenience store retailers in one word, it would be "hot," according to the findings of the 15th annual Convenience Store News Forecast Study.
The CSNews Forecast Study provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories based on data from various sources, including Nielsen for category sales history; TDLinx for store counts; and government sources for motor fuel volume and pricing data. The data is then run through a sophisticated projection model and presented in summary form. Maureen Maguire, founder and CEO of New York-based ThinkResearch, oversees the Forecast Study process.
Widely viewed as an afternoon indulgence, salty snacks — which include potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, ready-to-eat popcorn, nuts and seeds — experienced 4.3-percent growth in total industry dollar sales in 2016 (estimated). This metric is forecasted to increase 5.7 percent in 2017.
On a per-store basis, unit volume is forecasted to rise, however at a slower pace; by 2.8 percent this year vs. an even 2 percent in 2016. Popularity of potato chips and price hikes in salty snacks are anticipated to drive a boost in dollar sales per store, by 5 percent. Still, this isn’t as strong as the growth experienced in 2015, when salty snack dollar sales reached 5.5-percent growth — the largest growth over the three-year period.
In the alternative snacks segment, there’s continuing good news. This segment has seen significant growth over the past few years as consumers search for more wholesome between-meal fillers and portable, on-the-go snacks. In 2017, the alternative snacks category — encompassing meat snacks and health, energy, protein and granola bars — is predicted to grow by 4.7 percent in industry dollar sales, according to CSNews Forecast Study projections.
C-store operators are optimistic about their salty and alternative snack prospects for the upcoming months. In the salty snacks arena, 73.5 percent of retailers surveyed expect their dollar sales per store to increase. There’s similar sentiment for alternative snacks, with 71.4 percent of retailers foreseeing sales growth thanks to the rising interest in healthy eating in America, popularity of jerky, and consumers opting for healthier alternatives.
Look in the January issue of Convenience Store News for the full Forecast Study.