U.S. Convenience Store Count Stands at 152,720 Stores

The industry is faring better than other retail channels, but the number of small companies is declining.

U.S. Convenience Store Count Stands at 152,720 Stores

February 2020   minute read

Historically, c-stores have been unique in the retail channel in that new companies could enter the market relatively easily and succeed with a simple business model,” said Andy Jones, president and CEO of Sprint Food Stores, NACS Board member and vice chairman of the NACS Research & Technology Committee. "That’s not the case anymore. What we have been seeing during the past few years—and especially in 2019—is that the small operators are either going out of business because the model for success has changed, or they mastered the old business model—and maybe the new one as well—to be profitable enough to be bought by a larger company.

In 2019, United Kingdom-based EG Group was a dominant M&A player, purchasing Westborough, Massachusetts-based Cumberland Farms and its 567 stores, as well as select sites from Certified Oil and Fastrac. Des Moines, Iowa-based Yesway continued its buying spree, acquiring Allsup’s Convenience Stores, a 304-store regional chain based in Clovis, New Mexico.

Source: Nielsen

Overall, the industry is seeing less contraction than the grocery and drugstore channels, down 1.6% and 1.7%, respectively, while the dollar store channel continues to grow, adding 1,565 stores in 2019.

The convenience store count represents more than one third (35%) of the brick-and-mortar retail universe tracked by Nielsen in the United States. Except for the dollar store channel, all other major channels had fewer units at year-end 2019.

Accelerated change defined another deal-heavy year in convenience retail,” said Jeffrey Williams, senior vice president of Retail and U.S Industry Relations at Nielsen. “The dynamics within the industry are shifting, and bringing investor value is now a top priority for many players in the space. Since convenience has been relatively sheltered from the disruption of e-commerce, retailers in 2020 will continue to prioritize physical store growth to scale and grow the industry at large. That said, digital transformation and the consumer's growing desire for frictionless retail are headwinds on the horizon that should not be ignored.

Source: 2020 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count
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