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NATIONAL REPORT — When it comes to their cold vault prospects in 2016, convenience store operators hold a largely optimistic view, according to the exclusive 2016 Convenience Store News Industry Forecast Study.
Nearly one in seven retailers polled (67.6 percent) believe their packaged beverage sales — including carbonated soft drinks, bottled water, sports and energy drinks — will rise, as opposed to only 5.4 percent who expect sales to drop. The net change forecasted by retailers is 4 percent.
Chain retailers have a slightly more favorable outlook on the category, with 70.4 percent expecting to see a sales increase this year, compared to 60 percent of single-store owners.
Retailers note that much of packaged beverages’ success this year will stem from the bottled water segment, for which a 7-percent increase in dollar sales per store is forecasted.
For packaged beverages overall, the Forecast Study per-store prediction for dollar sales is 6.5-percent growth, a little higher than what retailers are anticipating.
As in past years, the CSNews Industry 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. CSNews’ consulting economist Maureen Maguire, founder and CEO of New York-based ThinkResearch, oversees the Forecast Study process.
C-store operators are pretty equally optimistic about the beer/malt beverages category, as 63.6 percent of those polled expect their sales to increase this year. The net change forecasted by retailers is 3.4 percent. That’s pretty close to what CSNews’ research is forecasting: a 3.1-percent increase in dollar sales per store for 2016.
Delving deeper into the various segments of beer, one retailer commented: “Imports and craft dominate growth. … Premium beer is flat (which is an improvement!).”
As consumers seek more diverse flavor profiles and new beverage innovation, micro beer (a.k.a. craft beer) is generating a lot of growth and excitement, albeit off a still-small base.
For full results of our 14th annual Forecast Study, including dollar and unit projections in other key c-store product categories, look in the January issue of Convenience Store News.