Making Our Voice Heard

NACS Virtual Day on the Hill connected the convenience industry to lawnmakers in D.C.

Making Our Voice Heard

May 2022   minute read

By: Margaret Hardin

Cover Image: Virtual Day on the Hill team leads discuss strategy ahead of meetings with congressional representatives.

It’s never been more important for members of our industry to use their collective voice to advocate on consumer and fuel retailing issues before Congress. The industry has evolved dramatically over the past two years, and the way we interact with lawmakers has changed as well. Most business is conducted virtually, and in-person meetings on Capitol Hill are still restricted. However, that didn’t stop convenience retailers and suppliers from making their voices heard during the annual NACS Day on the Hill. 

During March 8-9, NACS Virtual Day on the Hill provided a platform for 131 convenience retailers, suppliers and state association executives to share their stories and ask legislators for support on key policies impacting the industry.

This year’s group of advocates had 243 productive meetings with lawmakers from 46 states. Our retailers represented nearly 17,600 locations across the country—that’s over 11% of all convenience stores in the United States. Attendees met with lawmakers on the top three priorities for the convenience industry: advocating for competition on credit card swipe fees, a fair and competitive EV charging market and supporting legislation that allows SNAP customers to purchase hot foods. 


With the rise in gasoline prices and inflation, the convenience industry has seen a historic jump in credit card swipe fees. This is because the largest portion of these fees are a percentage of transaction amounts. So, when prices go up, swipe fees act as an inflation multiplier.

The credit card market in the United States is broken, and swipe fees keep going up because there is no competition in the marketplace. Visa and Mastercard make up 80% of the credit card market. These two networks set the swipe fee rates that thousands of banks who issue their credit cards charge retailers. The companies then prohibit those banks from putting a second network on a card, so retailers, like those attending Virtual Day on the Hill, have no market choice and are stuck with high swipe fees.

The Day on the Hill team meets with Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08)

This year, Virtual Day on the Hill teams asked Congress to support a legislative solution that would require two network routing options on a credit card, just like what already happens on debit cards. By introducing these routing options, retailers would have a choice of which network to route the transaction over, bringing some competitive pressure to how the networks set prices. If introduced, this legislation would provide much-needed relief to the convenience store industry and every business in America that accepts payment cards. 


The White House and Congress are considering proposals to expand the electrification of the transportation sector, including more incentives beyond what was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that President Biden signed into law at the end of 2021. Since the convenience and fuel retailing industry sells over 80% of motor fuels in the U.S., our industry needs to have a seat at the table while these debates happen in Washington, D.C. Convenience stores and gas stations are in every city, county and state across the nation, with convenient locations in rural and urban areas that will be key to offering new transportation energy, like electricity, to our customers.

The current electricity market is outdated and ill-equipped to handle a competitive EV charging market. Removing barriers to private sector investment is imperative to the long-term development of the EV charging market. Excessive charges and archaic policies involving the sale of electricity that never envisioned the use of electricity for vehicles make it virtually impossible for the private sector to make a business case for EV charging and thus, curtails private sector investment in EV charging infrastructure.

Virtual Day on the Hill attendees asked lawmakers to support legislation that would direct states to modernize their policies that discourage competition and private investment in the EV charging market. If lawmakers want to fulfill current U.S. plans to install 500,000 EV chargers across the nation, they should support—not disincentivize— private sector investment and a competitive private market for EV charging.


Since the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was established nearly 50 years ago, the way Americans buy, prepare and consume food has evolved. Yet, the 22 million families who rely on SNAP can only purchase cold prepared foods or foods for take-home preparation and consumption. Many Americans no longer prepare most meals from scratch; instead, they enjoy the convenience and flexibility of purchasing hot meals such as a rotisserie chicken, hot sandwiches or soup to eat on the go, at home or their workplace. Low income Americans who depend on SNAP need that flexibility as well.

The NACS GR team and Day on the Hill participants meet with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

Convenience stores play a vital role in SNAP by providing essential access to nutrition for low income Americans, particularly those in rural and urban America. Removing the SNAP hot foods restriction is a commonsense update to modernize the program, and Virtual Day on the Hill teams shared this message with Congress. Attendees asked representatives to co-sponsor the SNAP PLUS Act (H.R. 6338), bipartisan legislation that would remove the SNAP hot foods restriction, and they asked senators to consider leading a similar companion bill in the Senate.


Virtual Day on the Hill attendees also had the opportunity to hear directly from Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC-01), who gave a behind-the-scenes update on how things are going on Capitol Hill and even revealed her favorite things to buy at a c-store (she loves her local gas station’s prosecco!). She also had some helpful hints for everyone attending meetings during the NACS two-day event—be ready to have an honest conversation, make a concrete ask and, most importantly, share the compelling story of our industry.

Do you want to be in the room where it happens?


Nearly all attendees were Day on the Hill loyalists, meaning they come to the event year after year because they recognize that their voice has an impact. They want our industry to have a seat at the table, because as the saying goes: If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. NACS is incredibly grateful to everyone who attended. Even though we couldn’t meet in person on Capitol Hill, we still need to share our stories with the members of Congress who can influence our future.

Do you want to be in the room where it happens? We’re planning for Day on the Hill to be back in person in Washington, D.C., in 2023, and we encourage you to join us as we meet with lawmakers face to face. Lastly, Day on the Hill isn’t the only way to tell your story to lawmakers; if you’d like to get involved in our grassroots efforts, reach out to Margaret Hardin at [email protected]

To provide complete functionality, this web site needs your explicit consent to store browser cookies. We recommended that you "allow all cookies" so you may be able to use certain features, such as logging in, saving articles, or personalizing content.