People are taking home more grocery staples from convenience stores during the pandemic, a shift from heavy reliance on coffee, chips, candy and other products we eat and drink on the go.
More than half of the retailers say grocery sales increased, according to a late March survey of U.S. convenience store owners by the NACS, an industry trade association. Typically, 83% of products that the stores sell are consumed within an hour.
Here are some changes the stores report in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak:
- 31% are emphasizing ready-to-heat meals
- 28% are showcasing multipack and bulk items
- 52% are adding more cleaning and toiletry items
The stores have scaled back self-serve foodservice and restaurant offerings. Among retailers that made changes in those areas:
- 66% closed public seating and dining areas
- 45% removed customer access to self-serve foodservice, such as coffee, fountain drinks, bakery items and roller grill
About half of the stores reported that their current distribution system is working. About 20% say the system is sufficient, but they are supplementing it with other deliveries.
Some stores are trying to help with social distancing:
- 14% are offering curbside pickup
- 13% increased their focus on drive-thru
- 11% added or increased delivery options
Other survey results:
- 99% enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces, with regular cleaning done as often as every 30 minutes
- One in three provide hand sanitizer at gas pumps, and 20% provide gloves
- 60% reduced store operating hours, due to less customer traffic or to deep clean and restock during overnight hours