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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The buying power of millennials in the Virginia Peninsula area is attracting both 7-Eleven Inc. and Wawa Inc. Both convenience store chains are expanding in the area to capture these consumers' foodservice dollars, according to a Daily Press report.
Wawa is currently building a new c-store in Hampton, at the intersection of Pembroke Avenue and Mercury Boulevard and plans to open another store in Norfolk, in 2017. It is also looking at other sites.
In the past year, 7-Eleven opened stores in Hampton at Jefferson Avenue and 27th Street; on Warwick Boulevard across from Christopher Newport University; at 4915 W. Mercury Blvd.; 61 E. Mercury Blvd.; and at Mercury Boulevard and Fox Hill Road. Three more stores are scheduled to open in Newport News and Williamsburg in 2017, with more locations planned.
Together, Wawa and 7-Eleven capture 10.3 percent of food and grocery dollars in Hampton Roads, according to the most recent annual report from Food World.
The c-store chains' foodservice competition include fast food, which struggled in Hampton Roads last year, the report found. The number of regional fast food locations fell by 5 percent, according to The NPD Group's Annual ReCount report, while higher-end fast-casual locations increased 5 percent.
NPD Group noted that Wawa and 7-Eleven can compete by appealing to millennials, who want the quality and fresh ingredients of fast-casual restaurants but are frugal and prefer not to wait in line.
Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce told Daily Press that the chain caters to millennials' preference for customization through kiosk ordering and made-to-order sandwiches, along with its selection of grab-and-go fruit and veggie snacks packaged with dips. Meanwhile, Newport News 7-Eleven franchisee Bob Bullock stated that he believes millennials, who make up many of his customers, want to go in, find what they want and move on.
The area advantage goes to 7-Eleven, which has 244 stores, while Wawa has 28 as of the end of March 2016.
Based in Wawa, Pa., Wawa operates more than 700 c-stores.
7-Eleven Inc. — headquartered in Irving, Texas — operates, franchises and licenses more than 10,700 7-Eleven stores in North America.