The number of convenience stores in the US saw a 1.5% decline, to 148,026 by the end of December 2021, from 150,274 in the previous year, according to data from the 2022 NACS/NielsenIQ Convenience Industry Store Count.
It is the fourth-straight yearly decline as single-store operators continue to exit the industry, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) added.
However, the overall convenience store count remained approximately the same as a decade ago (148,126 stores in 2012).
Chuck Maggelet, NACS vice-chairman of research and technology and the CEO and chief adventure guide of Maverik Inc., said, “The new store count reflects ongoing changes that are happening in retail as our industry continues to invest in their operations and redefine convenience.”
“Our industry had record in-store sales in 2020 and was equally optimistic about continuing that sales trend in 2021. These opportunities to attract consumers and grow sales require new technologies and often different footprints that were not possible with many of the legacy stores that closed,” Maggelet added.
The study found that convenience stores sold around 80% of the motor fuels purchased by consumers in the United States.
In addition, data showed that 116,641 convenience stores offered motor fuels, or the equivalent of 78.8% of all convenience stores.
The decline in store count was led by a 3.1% decrease in single-store operators, which still account for 60.4% of all convenience stores (89,336 stores).
The decline of single-store operators follows a multi-year trend, with the format comprising a record 63.2% of the industry in 2017, the NACS noted.
Meanwhile, the percentage of single-store operators that sell fuel dropped to 54.6% in 2021, the lowest since the metric has been tracked in 2005.
In the grocery channel, convenience stores saw a 2.9% decline to 45,687 outlets.
With the US population at 332.4 million according to the US Census Bureau, there is one convenience store for every 2,245 people, the NACS noted.
Texas emerged on top of the list with the highest number of convenience stores (15,742 stores), or more than one in 10 stores in the United States.
It was also the only state among the top 10 that saw the addition of new stores (+47).
Meanwhile, New York (-248), Florida (-219), and North Carolina (-200) reported store closures.
The remaining states in the top 10 were the same as the previous year, with California in second place with 12,053 stores.
It was followed by Florida (9,400), New York (7,848), Georgia (6,448), North Carolina (5,690), Ohio (5,537), Michigan (4,819), Pennsylvania (4,629), and Illinois (4,623).
Elsewhere, the kiosk format, which sells fuel but not enough of an in-store product assortment to be a considered convenience store, saw a decline of 5.2% in 2021.
Over the past six years, the format shrunk by 32.9% as more consumers sought out stores that offer stronger food and beverage options.
Read More: US Convenience Stores Witness Strong Sales In 2020: NACS
© 2022 European Supermarket Magazine. Article by Dayeeta Das. For more Retail news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.