Convenience Store Growth Poses Threat to Quick Service

New research finds that the stores steal market share from limited-service restaurant chains

Convenience stores that sell food and beverages continue to steal market share from limited-service restaurant chains, new research finds.

While quick-service chains have expanded their operating hours and menus to operate across all dayparts and capture consumers trading down from casual and fast-casual competitors, they still face threats from convenience stores. Chicago-based market research firm Technomic Inc. found in its “Consumer C-Store Brand Metrics Shopper Insights Report” that a significant number of quick-service consumers are starting to view convenience stores in the same category as limited-service eateries for prepared foods and beverages.

Technomic’s study, which surveyed more than 3,700 consumers, found that 27 percent of respondents said that if they had purchased a meal from a convenience store somewhere else, it would have been from a quick-service restaurant. The same number of consumers said they would have purchased the meal from another convenience store.

Tim Powell, a director at Technomic, said 82 percent of survey respondents said they buy prepared foods or beverages from convenience stores once a month, and 52 percent do so once a week.

“Convenience stores are increasingly falling into the same consideration set as fast-food restaurants,” Powell said. “This really speaks to the enhanced foodservice offerings in convenience stores, as well as evolving consumer behaviors.”

Twenty-seven percent of consumers said they purchased an afternoon snack on their most recent trip to a convenience store, Technomic found, while 19 percent bought lunch on their last convenience store trip and 23 percent ordered just a beverage.

Impulse buying was a key factor in convenience-store sales, the data found, as 31 percent of respondents purchased a prepared food item at a convenience store only after seeing it on the premises and getting a craving for it.

Food and beverage sales growth at convenience stores has prompted several restaurant companies to expand their unit counts with locations in convenience stores or gas stations.