Convenience Store Sales are Rising: Here’s How to Join the Trend

According to Statistics Canada, in 2018 food sales from convenience stores spiked 6% and specialty stores rose 10%. In contrast, retail food sales were down in the same period.

According to research from Dalhousie University, the average Canadian shopper visits 2.3 grocery stores regularly, about 1.29 times a week and spends roughly 32 minutes shopping.

So why are more turning to convenience stores?

1. Shorter checkout times.

Canadian Grocer reports that some convenience stores are following the Amazon Go model and decreasing checkout line times — essentially putting the convenience in convenience stores.

Even stores that don’t offer self-checkouts are often less crowded than traditional stores, which can decrease the wait time.

2. Pulling double duty.

Many convenience stores are also home to a gas station, making it a one-stop shop for customers who need to fuel up and fill up. They can get both done in one place, rather than travelling to multiple stores.

3. Better quality products.

Convenience stores used to primarily stock processed and snack foods, but recently more have been embracing better quality products – including ready-to-eat meals and even, in some cases, fresh produce.

Specialty stores in many cases have built their brand around offering a specific product range and marketing the quality – for instance, fresh baked bread at a bakery rather than a store-bought loaf.

In both cases, customers can feel they are getting the same – or better – quality products than they do at traditional retail food stores.

4. Food inflation.

The Globe and Mail reports that the national food inflation rate in June of 2018 was 1.4%, compared with 1% in May of 2018.

“Food service is progressively winning over food retailing,” The Globe stated.

Convenience stores used to have a reputation for being more expensive than the average grocery store – after all, customers were paying for the convenience. But when prices start to even out between convenience stores and traditional grocers, the same savings aren’t always found by going to a larger store.

5. Convenience stores offer longer hours for rural areas.

While in major cities like Toronto bigger food retailers might be open until 10 p.m. (or even later) it’s not the same across the majority of the country.

In smaller, more rural areas, there may be only one or two grocery stores and a convenience store – and the convenience store often has longer hours.

For instance, in Burk’s Falls, Ontario, the one grocery store in town closes at 8 p.m. most weeknights (on Fridays it is open until 9 p.m.) and closes at 5 p.m. on Sundays. In contrast, the local convenience store is open until 10 p.m. every night.

In some areas, there may not even be a major grocery store – or there was one, but it left the area due to lower sales – and thus the local convenience store is the only source for the community’s food shopping needs unless they choose to travel further.

Manufacturers can take advantage of this trend by looking at how their products are stocked in convenience stores. See what products are on shelves, make sure stock is kept up, and ask how you create displays for more convenient shopping.

For grocers dealing with lower retail food sales, consider how your retailer could be made more convenient – can you provide more ready-to-eat options, expanded hours, or delivery services? And make sure shelves are kept stocked and product displays are current.

Marketsupport Canada can help provide support for manufacturers in grocery stores and convenience stores alike. With our nation-wide reach, we can make sure your product is kept in stock across the country.

Learn more today. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit

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