What’s In Store?

Two weeks ago at the Healthy Retailer Conference I had the opportunity to give a presentation about community organizing. One of the things that I shared with attendees was some data from the National Association of Convenience Stores. Every year NACS creates a State of the Industry Report to help retailers (and people like us!) understand what’s going on in the retail environment. At the American Lung Association in California we use this report each year to look at the sales and profits of retailers with respect to cigarettes and other tobacco products.

In preparing for my presentation I realized that the data told a bigger picture about what was going on in the retail environment, not just with tobacco. In fact, all of the top eight products in terms of profit were products that we were discussing at the conference – tobacco products, alcohol and unhealthy snacks and beverages. Here are the numbers:

  • Packaged Beverages: $92,940
  • Cigarettes: $91,188
  • Beer: $34,716
  • Salty Snacks: $25,920
  • Candy: $24,408
  • Other Tobacco: $22,080
  • Packaged Sweet Snacks: $12,468
  • Ice Cream/Novelties: $11,856

In addition, this recent article points to data that shows the unhealthy food products (such as packaged beverages, candy, and salty snacks) are often purchased together with cigarettes. The article even suggests a strategy to retailers to place these products near the register to be near the tobacco products which are behind the counter.

As for healthier options, it’s interesting to note that when you add up categories that might be considered healthy food in the NACS data, such as Edible Groceries, Perishable Groceries, Milk, Other Dairy and Deli and Packaged Bread the total gross profit comes out to only $22,344.

At the Healthy Retailer Conference it was exciting to see information from another speaker about how adding produce to a store might shift some of the profit dependency away from the unhealthy products. However, it’s important to remember that his data might reflect communities where corner stores can or may play more of a grocery store role. And no matter the shift, the data reminds us how much convenience stores will need to continue to rely on unhealthy products for their profits, even with an influx of healthier options.

Moving forward those of us in tobacco, alcohol, and nutrition have a real opportunity to work together. We will increase our strength by teaming up to tackle the difficult but important issues facing us in making the retail environment healthier for our communities.

–Vanessa Marvin


  1. Jeff Wolsfeld
    Posted Oct 2, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Great article Vanessa, I have this vision that instead of sweets and unhealthy products on the counter that retailers will have a bowl of various fruit on the counter that can be sold individually for a quarter.

  2. Posted Oct 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I love that idea, Jeff!

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