The number of convenience stores contracted last year, but in doing so became a bigger competitive challenge to other retail channels, as the total figure doesn’t tell the whole story.
The number of convenience stores declined slightly, according to the 2020 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count, with the number of single store operators accounting for the dip. There are now 152,720 convenience stores operating in the U.S. and 121,988 of them sell fuel. Offsetting the decline of smaller operators, a phenomena previously seen in other retail sectors, were gains by larger chains with sophisticated operations and expanded merchandise offerings.
"The dynamics within the industry are shifting, and bringing investor value is now a top priority for many players in the space,” according to Jeffrey Williams, SVP of Retail and U.S Industry Relations at Nielsen. “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.”