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    QSRs Trailing C-stores in Fast-Food Purchase Visits

    Fast service, convenience trump chain loyalty for many consumers.

    CHICAGO — As convenience and grocery stores improve the quality of their foodservice offerings, an increasing number of consumers are choosing to visit these retail outlets for their prepared meals and snacks in addition to quick-service restaurants (QSRs), reported The NPD Group.

    Quick, convenient food from c-stores and supermarkets has incrementally added customers to the fast-food/foodservice market, according to QSR Plus Retail Market Monitor, NPD's continuous, daily tracker that monitors awareness, trial and usage for QSR operators in major markets and nationally.

    The number of fast-food purchases made at retail outlets per customer from the March 2015 through June 2015 time period is more than six visits higher than those made to QSRs in an average four-week period.

    The majority of consumers use multiple channels, retail outlets and QSRs when purchasing prepared meals and snacks, NPD found. Less than 25 percent of QSR customers only go to traditional QSR outlets in a four-week period, and most QSR customers use all available retail channels to meet their quick-service meal requirements.

    Customers who exclusively visit traditional QSR outlets are more likely to dine in at the restaurant than customers who use multiple channels for quick service.

    "Consumers use QSRs, convenience and grocery stores interchangeably for fast food, particularly when they find the same quality and variety," stated Bonnie Riggs, NPD's restaurant industry analyst. "The lines between retail foodservice and QSRs are blurring for consumers, and these channels are competing for visits from consumers looking for a quick meal or snack."

    C-stores hold the highest shares of coffee, snacks, breakfast foods, soft drinks and Mexican foods. QSRs that offer morning meals are the most likely to feel the impact of c-stores on their customer base.

    Morning occasions are likely in-and-out, grab-and-go visits where convenience and fast service trump QSR chain preference, NPD found. The time between meal and snack purchases are another vulnerable time of day for QSRs.

    Grocery stores hold a high share of purchases of chicken, side dishes and salads, and provide an easy, convenient, ready-to-consume meal for multiple family members.

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