Product procurement was a major challenge for US-based convenience store operators in the second quarter of the year, with 39% citing 'significant' levels of pandemic-related supply chain disruption, a NACS survey has found.
According to the study, 86% of c-store operators said that at least 10% of their orders were disrupted, with beverages proving a particular challenge – 72% of retailers reported supply disruptions related to packed beverages, while 67% reported supply challenges related to beer.
Compounding the inventory challenges in the period, three quarters of respondents (76%) said it was difficult to fill available positions, with just 2% of retailers surveyed saying they did not face hiring challenges in Q2.
C-store operators don't appear to be confident that things will improve any time soon, either, with just 25% of retailers and 27% of suppliers 'confident' that supply disruptions will improve in the second half of the year.
Sales Rebound At Convenience Stores
At the same time, however, convenience store sales have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, according to NACS data, while fuel sales have also largely recovered. Previously, NACS had reported strong sales for the US c-store sector in 2020.
The industry is also seeing the benefits of greater collaboration, with 66% of suppliers saying that their relationship with c-store retailers is better than a year ago, and 44% saying that their level of partnership and collaboration with the channel has improved.
“Our industry’s resilience has been on display throughout the pandemic and is even more apparent now as the economy continues to bounce back," commented NACS chairman Kevin Smartt.
"The value of convenience has never been higher, and the innovation within our channel to continually reinvent convenience to benefit our 165 million daily customers astonishes me. I look forward to a strong rest of 2021 and beyond."
The NACS Retailer and Supplier Member Pulse surveys were conducted in June 2021 by NACS Research, with 56 retailer members, representing a cumulative 1,497 stores, as well as 83 supplier member companies participating in the survey.