SIDEBAR: Ranking snacks in the c-store channel

With declining gasoline revenue due to lower prices, purchases inside the c-store take on greater prominence. While tobacco still rules with 35.9% of in-store revenue, food service is playing an ever-important role with 20.8% of per-store sales, according to 2015 data by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

The center store — which includes snacks, baked goods, candy and other packaged goods — accounts for 10.7%, with beverages and “other” contributing the rest. Salty snacks, alternative snacks (such as nutrition bars) and sweet snacks rank among the Top 10 merchandise categories.

“They’re not the largest categories, but they are a destination trip for those products,” noted Bob Swanson, director of research and statistics, NACS. “The whole idea is to get shoppers into the stores.”

Within the packaged sweet snacks category, for instance, muffins and donuts comprise 48.8% of sales followed by snack cakes/pastries/desserts at 27.3% and cookies at 23.9%.

Packaged bread sales — a tiny portion of the market — slipped slightly. “Most people purchase a loaf of bread in grocery stores and other retail outlets while most bread purchased at c-stores is a ‘fill in’ purchase on the way home,” Mr. Swanson said.