The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 149,220 stores as of December 31, 2012, a 0.7% increase (1,094 stores) from the year prior, according to the 2013 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
The growth of convenience stores selling motor fuels was nearly triple the overall growth in the industry, as fuels retailers added convenience operations and convenience retailers added fueling operations. Overall, 82.6% of convenience stores (123,289 stores) sell motor fuels, a 1.9% increase (2,339 stores) over last year.
Convenience stores account for 34.8% of all retail outlets in the United States, according to Nielsen, significantly higher than the U.S. total of other retail channels including drug stores (40,727 stores), supermarkets (33,192 stores) and dollar stores (24,075 stores).
“Our continued growth shows that our core offer of convenience resonates with customers, whether a fill-up, quick snack or drink, or for fill-in groceries or take-out meals for time-starved consumers,” said NACS Chairman Dave Carpenter, president and CEO of Denver-based J.D. Carpenter Companies Inc.
The convenience retailing industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, which now account for 62.9% of all convenience stores (93,819 stores total), an increase of 0.7% over last year. The only other company size that experienced growth was stores owned by companies with 500-plus stores. That total is now 21,738 stores, an 8.9% increase over last year.
The convenience retailing industry has seen remarkable growth over the last three decades. At year-end 1982, the store count was 76,200 stores, at year-end 1992 the store count was 100,800 stores, and at year-end 2002 the store count was 132,400 stores.
Nielsen calculations are based in part on data reported by Nielsen for the period ending December 2012 through its TDLinx service for retail channels. Nielsen determines its convenience store count using the store definition that requires stores to include a broad merchandise mix, extended hours of operation and a minimum of 500 stock-keeping units (SKUs), among other factors. (NACS: www.nacsonline.com)