April 5/Chicago/CSP Daily News -- Convenience store sales, both at the pump and inside the store, set new records in 2011, according to data released by NACS.

In-store convenience store sales grew 2.4%, reaching a record $195.0 billion. Combined with $486.9 billion in motor fuel sales, total convenience store sales in 2011 were $681.9 billion, or one out of every 22 dollars of the overall $15.04 trillion U.S. gross domestic product.

The industry's 2011 numbers were announced in Chicago at the NACS State of the Industry Summit, a two-day conference that reviews and analyzes the industry's key economic indicators.

In-store sales growth was driven by strong sales gains in several beverage categories. Alternative beverages (a category that includes energy and relaxation drinks) saw a 15.3% increase, sports drinks were up 13.9% and cold dispensed beverage sales were up 12.3%. Several beer subcategories also saw strong growth: super premium beer sales increased 10.6% and craft beer sales were up 13.9%.

Convenience stores continued to evolve their foodservice programs with more meal offers and healthy food options. Prepared food sales increased 13.0%, and emerging snacking subcategories also grew. The nuts/seeds subcategory saw 5.0% growth, leading salty snack sales.

More than 80% of in-store sales are from the top five categories:
1. Cigarettes (38.1% of in-store sales)
2. Foodservice* (16.9%)
3. Packaged beverages (14.3%)
4. Beer (7.3%)
5. Other tobacco products (4.0%)
(*Includes dispensed beverages--hot, cold and frozen--and prepared foods)

While tobacco products (cigarettes and OTP) constituted more than 42.1% of in-store revenue dollars, they accounted for only 22.2% of gross margin dollars. Meanwhile, packaged beverages and foodservice continued to gain share of gross profit dollars and accounted for nearly half (47.8%) of all gross profit dollars, of which the top five categories are:
1. Foodservice (29.4% of in-store gross margin dollars)
2. Packaged beverages (18.4%)
3. Cigarettes (18.1%)
4. Beer (4.5%)
5. Candy (4.4%)

The industry's 2011 metrics are based on the NACS State of the Industry survey powered by its wholly owned subsidiary CSX, the industry's largest online database of financial and operating data. The metrics are based on data from 246 firms representing more than 27,000 stores – including 48% of all stores that are part of companies with more than one store.

 From the April 9, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News