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Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade

by 
Ezra Carmel
 on 
September 20, 2023
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade

The C-store segment has been on the rise in recent years. This blog dives into the data for four leading c-store chains to highlight specific brands that are rising to the top of the pack. 

Wawa: Raising the Bar for Convenience

Wawa’s visit growth and the brand’s ability to funnel visits from the QSR space have garnered much attention of late. And these successes have also boosted Wawa’s standing in the larger c-store category. Since Q1 2019, Wawa’s share of total visits to the c-store category has increased from 12.8% to 17.6% in Q2 2023. 

Wawa continues to innovate and provide new levels of convenience to consumers. The brand’s latest prototype – a fully digital store where all orders are placed via app or on in-store touch screens – could be the next leap that ultimately drives more traffic. 

Maverik: The Top Gun of C-Stores 

Maverik’s recent acquisition of fellow c-store Kum & Go presents an opportunity for the brand to diversify its audience. Still, Maverik has other irons in the fire to drive growth – including expansion into Montana next year. 

Zooming out on visits to the chain since 2019 revealed that Maverik appears to be winning the long game. In 2023, Maverik has consistently outperformed the wider c-store space in monthly year-over-four-year (Yo4Y) visit growth. This suggests that Maverik is one of the strongest c-store chains coming out of the pandemic era.

Buc-ee’s: No Summer Fling

Buc-ee’s topped the list of c-stores with strong summer visit peaks in 2023. And further analysis of Buc-ee’s foot traffic trends revealed that the chain has sustained elevated visits for several years. 

Compared to a January 2019 baseline, Buc-ee’s visit growth has outperformed the wider c-store space nearly every month – the only exception being April 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Buc-ee’s isn’t the largest c-store chain, but that gives its cult following and each additional location a greater foot traffic impact.

Sheetz: Facilitating Growth

Sheetz is yet another c-store chain that has undertaken aggressive expansion in recent years. And the brand shows no sign of slowing down. Sheetz has its sights set on opening its first Michigan location by the end of next year and is building a $145 million distribution facility to support growth in multiple states. 

Sheetz’s expansion is particularly impressive in that visits to new locations don’t appear to cannibalize existing foot traffic. Throughout 2023, Sheetz has experienced positive visits per venue growth while outperforming the wider c-store space. This indicates that additional Sheetz venues consistently drive increased traffic – a good sign ahead of the tough competition expected in Michigan. 

Settling the C-Store Score

The c-store space is highly regional which creates opportunities for multiple players to find success in localized markets. This also allows chains to curate their offerings to specific audiences, providing convenience that matches local preferences. As expansions and mergers heat up in the c-store space, so will the competition – as regional players encroach on the territory of rival brands.

‍For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit Placer.ai.

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