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2023 Convenience Store Trends: Food, Fuel, and the Future

2023 Convenience Store Trends: Food, Fuel, and the Future

Consumers don’t care about the traditional divisions between industries. Channel blurring, the purchasing of goods and services from an alternative provider instead of one traditionally associated with it, is commonplace today. And this is especially evident in the competition between convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants.

For years, convenience store brands have been investing heavily in their prepared and made-to-order food options. But are they doing enough to win the battle for share of stomach against the well-established quick-serve players? As restaurants begin investing in electric vehicle charging stations, will they draw consumers away from convenience stores?

Our latest report, Food, Fuel, and the Future, includes data from consumer surveys, mystery shopping programs, and operational audits to look at how technology is impacting the competition between these two industries. Keep reading for a taste of what’s included or download the full report here.

Food

Consumers are primarily turning to convenience stores for food on the go. In fact, 77% reported eating the meal they purchased in their car.

food-consumption

Quick-serve restaurants have been investing heavily in customer-facing technology in order to attract customers in a hurry. For example, Taco Bell’s Defy location in Minnesota features a 4-lane drive-thru and vertical lifts to deliver customers’ orders.

Meanwhile, convenience stores have not yet widely adopted customer-facing technology. This summer, Intouch Insight conducted audits of nearly 800 convenience store locations across the United States. Of the brands we visited, half only offered self-checkouts, and 30% of their locations or less.

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Fuel

So far, convenience stores have roughly kept pace with the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs). As part of our annual audits of convenience stores, Intouch Insight has been tracking how many locations feature EV charging stations. While we found fewer compared to last year, 12% of the locations we visited in 2023 feature charging stations.

ev-charging

The International Energy Agency estimates that EVs will account for 18% of the car market in 2023. However, S&P Global Mobility predicts that EVs could account for up to 40% of new vehicles by 2030. This leaves a lot of ground to make up in a short amount of time.

This presents another area for competition between convenience stores and quick-serve restaurants. Taco Bell began installing charging stations at select locations in 2022 and Subway announced their intention to do the same in 2023.

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The Future

There is immense potential for convenience store brands to enhance customer experiences through the adoption of new technologies. From mobile loyalty apps to advancements in artificial intelligence, technology may be able to drive more revenue, mitigate labor shortages, and ensure consistency in experiences. It is likely that how new technology is rolled out and utilized will make a major difference in where battles are fought and won.

Our 2023 convenience store report includes the latest data from consumer surveys, mystery shopping programs, and operational audits to give readers actionable insights. Download your free copy today.

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