By Gina Acosta
Small formats are all the rage in retail these days, so no wonder the latest data from Nielsen shows 2014 was another year of record growth.
The U.S. convenience store count increased to 152,794 stores as of Dec. 31, a nearly 1% increase from the year prior, according to the 2015 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
“Our continued growth, even during a sluggish economy, shows that our core offer of convenience resonates more than ever with our customers, whether they visit us for a fuel fill-up, quick snack or drink, or stop by for fill-in groceries or healthy take-out meals,” said NACS Chairman Steve Loehr, vice president of operations support at LaCrosse, Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip.
The link between fuels and convenience retailing continues to grow. Overall, 83.5% of convenience stores 127,588 sell motor fuels, a 0.7% increase (930 stores) over 2013.
Convenience stores account for 33.9% of all retail outlets in the United States, according to Nielsen, which is significantly higher than the U.S. total of other retail channels including drug stores (41,799 stores), supermarket/supercenter (41,529 stores) and dollar stores (26,572 stores).
The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, which account for 63.0% of all convenience stores (96,318 stores total) and 83.5% of store growth in 2014. Among the states, Texas continues to lead in store count with 15,434 stores. The rest of the top 10 states for convenience stores are California (11,403), Florida (9,810), New York (8,247), Georgia (6,766), North Carolina (6,301), Ohio (5,539), Michigan, (4,907), Illinois (4,670) and Pennsylvania (4,604), which nudged Virginia out of the top 10.
The convenience retailing industry has roughly doubled in size over the last three decades. At year-end 1984, the store count was 85,300 stores, at year-end 1994 the store count was 98,200 stores and at year-end 2004 the store count was 138,205 stores.