Who Is Winning? Convenience Stores, Or Fast Food Restaurants, Or Is It You?

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 10/8/2019

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A recent conversation with an experienced vending operator pointed out something you might be aware of in your area. Recently a new convenience store opened near one of his locations. People are leaving the workplace to purchase food, snacks and beverages. Then they head back. Some might eat, snack or drink while on their return journey as part of lunch or a short break period. Others bring “it” back to sit down in the breakroom or at their work stations.

What’s going on here? A7-Eleven manager once told me that something like 75% of what they sell is consumed within one hour of purchase. In fact, the time span from purchase to consumption might be even faster.

By the way, the convenience store in question is QT or QuikTrip. This chain is high up on my list. One of their stores was located less than two miles from our Dallas home (when we lived there). We often purchased gas and went inside for beverages and snacks.

It was probably about six years ago that a project took me to Tulsa. Some free time allowed me to visit their prototype store. It presented one of the best merchandising sets we had encountered.

Here in the Austin area, there is a new QT, about five miles away. This is an upgraded version of the store in Tulsa.

QT is relatively new in the Austin market. In May 2018 >it announced plans to build nine stores in Central Texas. If you’re serving locations in the Austin area, you should have already been a customer at a local QT store.

In my presentations, we’ve often advised operators to learn more about what is going on at their best locations. You should position yourself where you can observe lunch-time traffic at the primary employee access as people are leaving and returning. Then keep track of the total number of people and those returning with a purchase and the brands on the bags or boxes they are carrying. It will probably be relatively easy to identify the brands (fast food, convenience stores, etc.). That will help you understand who your primary local competitors are.

Now, let’s address the big picture issue. Who is winning? Is it convenience stores? Or is it fast food restaurants? Or is it you? You should read a May posting at NACS Media Daily. The headline is: “>C-Stores Gain Traction on Quick-Service Restaurants.” There is a real increase in the number of people who are buying food at the convenience stores and the amount they’re spending. 

Convenience stores and fast food restaurant chains are increasing their focus on “the food.” You don’t have to read it here. You can see it live and in person at competitive operations in your local area.

The competition is not sitting still. If you want to sell more stuff, keep pushing food quality, new products and adding more alternatives to make your menu offering more appealing to the shoppers you are serving.

PAUL SCHLOSSBERG

Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached by emailing to Paul@DFWConsulting.net, calling him at (972) 877-2972. The company is online at www.DFWConsulting.net