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Are labor shortage obstacles adversely affecting C-store recovery?

While June 2020 marked the emergence of a new normal, June 2021 was marked by dollar sales that were flat compared to the previous year. Although year-over-year growth is an important measure of performance, the pandemic-influenced 2020 results were so different that there are still questions about whether C-stores have actually regained all they lost in 2020. Moreover, there are lingering questions about how key categories are actually faring.

As of June 2021, YTD C-store top-line sales surpassed pre-pandemic levels, but the underpinnings of growth have shifted. Trips continue to lag well behind pre-pandemic trips (about -13% vs. 2019), and June trips for key categories like Foodservice, Candy, and Salty Snacks were down nearly double digits vs. June 2019.

It’s likely that the highly publicized labor shortages and supply chain disruptions are adversely affecting C-store recovery, and there’s no shortage of media coverage headlining how the restaurant industry’s rebound is being held back as a result. C-store Foodservice is no exception, but could this be a new opportunity for C-stores and suppliers to regain some of the lost trips?

With in-store digital solutions redirecting store associates to the food counter (particularly during key dayparts), bundled promotions, out-of-store communications, and loyalty programs could help draw more shoppers into the store to better meet, in particular, their daytime food needs.

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