Convenience-store Meet (& Eat) in Vegas

The Mars group was one of the exhibitors at the National Association of Convenience Stores show. The yellow M&M even posed for a selfie!
Photo by Diane Taylor

I asked for press credentials for last week’s NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) trade show because I knew I’d have plenty to eat. This trade show, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, features products that on-the-go convenience stores and fuel retailers have on their shelves. A good many of those products are foods which buyers must first sample, yes?

Indeed the trade show featured lots of foods and beverages, and many of those products are shown in the attached video. For the people who attended the NACS event, some 57 educational sessions and lots of opportunities to meet with business friends were available as well.

Although I didn’t attend the educational events, this show was a teaching moment for me, mostly because I picked up a copy of Monday’s show daily (the special publication issued in conjunction with the show) and the October edition of a magazine called Convenience Store News.

From the show daily, I noted an article about the December 1, 2016 deadline for still more nutrition information to be available for consumers. The new regulations will cause problems for many convenience-store owners, particularly those serving food for immediate consumption. We’ll soon all know in large type how many calories are in EVERYTHING!

Better news came from Convenience Store News:

The first six months of 2015 have been banner months for convenience stores with sales increasing 3.5 percent.

Lots of samples were distributed at the NACS show. A very popular sample: cups of beer by Anheuser Busch.
Photo by Diane Taylor

And in the something-new department:

“7-Eleven Inc. has launched a partnership with DoorDash to provide on-demand delivery service from 7-Eleven stores in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.” Delivery from a 7-Eleven? Really?

Though big-box stores are known for having private brands, 7-Eleven has its own private brands. “A spate of activity on the product development side in recent years has taken 7-Eleven’s store brand program to new heights,” says the magazine. “Within the past year or so, the retailer added such items as 7-Select Go Smart fruit and nut bars, 7-Select Go! Yum sweet treats and even a line of 7-Select over-the-counter (OTC) medications. 7-Eleven, part of Tokyo-headquartered Seven-Eleven Japan Co., operates, franchises and licenses almost 8,700 stores in the United States and Canada.” Will we eventually be buying everything from a convenience store?

Model Lisa Sansouci came to the NACS show from California to work the Wm, Wrigley Jr Company booth. Here she holds a new package of Wrigley’s Mystery Mint Maze gun.
Photo by Diane Taylor

A survey reprinted in the magazine noted chain-store fuel sales have recently been 35.1 percent cash; 42.2 percent credit card, 21.9 percent debit card and less than 1 percent other. In case you are wondering, motor-fuel margins have greatly increased in the last two years because of lower fuel prices. The profit margin for the first half of 2015, as reported by the magazine, was 20 cents per gallon.

In an article about the popularity of snack bars, cereal bars, protein bars, energy bars, granola bars, nutrition bars and yogurt bars, the magazine noted that more than 1000 of such bars are on the market today vs just 226 in 2005. Don’t have the time to cook breakfast? Grab a bar and go!

The Cambell Soup Company displayed ingredients at its NACS booth.  Photo by Diane Taylor
The Cambell Soup Company displayed ingredients at its NACS booth.
Photo by Diane Taylor

In an article about credit cards with embedded chips, called “EMV” cards, and how only some convenience stores have installed the card readers to deal with those cards (an October 1 point-of-sale deadline has passed), the following statistic was noted: “The U.S. is one of the last countries to adopt EMV. U.S. accounts for 47% of global fraud, but only 23% of the overall transactions.”

And in new product news (learned from the magazine): the folks at Oreo are introducing Oreo Churros, a new ethnic treat. Jelly Belly is announcing a new small package of candy corn, in time for Halloween, no doubt. Eight O’Clock Coffee is using a patented technology process to produce new “coffee thins”, an on-the-go edible coffee treat. (But what will I tell my Kuerig!)