Report: Convenience in a COVID-19 World

Report: Convenience in a COVID-19 World

Global, multi-industry consulting firm Alix Partners, has completed a report on Convenience in a COVID-19 World.

The report covers convenience store sales trends during the crisis, the impact of changing consumer behavior (Shifting day-parts, dining habits, adoption of mobile technology and foodservice offering) and opportunity on delivery / take out (How operators are responding to the crisis, Innovation in delivery, what convenience store operators should do).

John Benson, a Director in the Restaurants, Hospitably and Leisure Practice at AlixPartners

Key findings of the report:

Executive summary

  • The coronavirus pandemic has materially disrupted consumer C-store habits:

− Fuel sales plummeted in March and April but have continued to steadily rebound. Margins have improved

− Despite industry in-store sales recovering during pandemic, mix shift has impacted many operators’ growth platforms of recent years and eroded margins

− Foodservice has experienced declines while there has been a resurgence in some provisioning categories

  • Headwinds will likely persist, and this will have broad-ranging implications for C-stores:

− New consumer segments will emerge and center around health / hygiene sensitivity and levels of economic distress; enduring remote working will continue to disrupt day-parts

− Optimizing merchandise and reducing costs will become increasingly important for C-store operators as they address changing behaviors

− C-stores have been late adopters of technology, but some operators have accelerated their ecommerce capabilities and off-premise offerings during this time while others have not

  • Despite challenges, C-stores are well-positioned to capitalize on emerging consumer dynamics:

− Consumer interest in grocery delivery and pre-package meals provide C-stores a point of differentiation

− Digital ordering and delivery-related innovations will continue to provide disruption opportunities

  • Moving forward, there are three significant things C-stores should do to respond to the disruption:

− Optimize the offering – to create or renew the drive towards foodservice while balancing grocery trends

− Re-imagine the format – to accommodate new consumer sensitivities and shopping dynamics

− Differentiate on technology platforms – targeted loyalty, marketing, and mobile offerings that create stickiness with consumers and differentiation vs. other chains and channels


  • Despite fewer transactions, larger basket spend has helped Cstores daily in-store sales recover to relatively flat in recent weeks
  • Sales offsets have largely been anchored around Alcohol, Lottery and Cigarettes
  • More robust foodservice offerings and advanced delivery platforms gave other segments a distinct advantage during this crisis

Consumer habits going forward

  • HEALTH: Health and wellness megatrend will accelerate with on-gong focus on prevention – Nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mindfulness will be prioritized
  • HYGIENE: Consumers will demand contactless ordering, pick-up, delivery and payment – New micro pockets of growth in local communities as consumers ‘travel local’
  • HOME: Home will be the hub for work, school, exercise, entertainment, and dining – Nesting tendencies will divert discretionary spending toward improving the quality of at-home living experience (i.e., renovation, cooking, exercise equipment, etc.)
  • HABITS: Disparate economic impact will shape new consumer segments–luxury and indulgent will continue, but within new pockets – Private label and value channels will gain greater consumer adoption – Spending local to support your community will become in vogue – Trusted, iconic brands will provide comfort at the expense of independent stores and start-up brands

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