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As we enter 2022, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has updated their common categories for c-stores to reflect changes in customer behaviors and habits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. These new categories are important for benchmarking industry performance, providing clarification through common language and simplified terminology and capturing innovation and transitions in the industry.

For a full guide to the new category mapping put forth by NACS, see this PDF listing all subcategories and new changes. Highlights of the document include the following significant changes and additions, as stated by NACS (new subcategories underlined, deletions and name changes italicized):

Fuel

  • E15 and Renewable Diesel are new subcategories listed under Fuel Products

Beer/Wine/Liquor

  • Popular Beer will be dissolved as a subcategory, replaced with Alcoholic Cider. Items previously in Popular should be mapped to either Premium Plus/Super Premium or Budget/Value
  • Alcoholic Seltzer is a new subcategory in Beer
  • Cheladas is a new subcategory in Beer
  • Other Beer is a new subcategory in Beer
  • Ready-to-Drink Cocktails is a new subcategory in Liquor

Packaged Beverages

  • Ready-to-Drink Coffee is a new subcategory in Packaged Beverages

Candy

  • Candy Rolls/Mints/Drops will be renamed Breath Mints
  • Novelties/Seasonal Candy will be renamed Novelties
  • Change Makers/Penny Counter Goods will be renamed Changes Makers/Penny Counter Goods/Bulk Candy
  • Bulk Candy will be dissolved as a subcategory and replaced with Seasonal Candy. Items previously in Bulk Candy should be mapped to Change Makers/Penny Counter Goods/Bulk Candy
  • Other Candy is a new subcategory in Candy

Commissary

  • Bakery is a new subcategory in Commissary

Packaged Ice Cream

  • Premium Ice Cream will be renamed Bulk Ice Cream
  • Ice Cream will be renamed Single-Serve Ice Cream
  • Other Packaged Ice Cream is a new subcategory in Packaged Ice Cream

Packaged Sweet Snacks

  • Other Packaged Sweet Snacks is a new subcategory in Packaged Sweet Snacks

Health & Beauty Care

  • Feminine Hygiene will be renamed Personal Hygiene

General Merchandise

  • Trading Cards subcategory will be dissolved as a subcategory and replaced with Personal Protective Equipment. Items previously in Trading Cards should be mapped to Other General Merchandise. The Personal Protective Equipment subcategory will include gloves, masks and other wearable protective products (not hand sanitizer)

Reference: https://www.convenience.org/Research/NACS-Category-Definitions-Number-Guide

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NACS Convenience Trends

The NACS 2021 SOI survey revealed that candy, for 2020, accounted for about 3% of c-store sales. Here are a few more facts about candy that you should know about.

According to NACS 2021 SOI report:

  • 2.9% of inside store sales were attributed to candy
  • 43.9% of candy sales were chocolate bars
  • Candy is an impulse item

Although candy is not a large portion of sales, c-stores are the second most popular channel for sales after grocery stores, according to the National Confectioners Association (NCA), the organization that puts on the Sweets and Snacks Expo.

A few of their reports help us to dive deeper into trends. These are just a few stats from their 2019 Getting to Know Chocolate Consumers Report:

Candy Trends (Grocery, Drug Store, Convenience and Other)

The number 2 destination for chocolate purchases is convenience stores. Who buys from convenience stores?

  • Younger Millennials 60%*
  • Older Millennials 54%
  • Gen X 54%
  • Baby Boomers 32%

Sweet Insights: NCA State of Treating 2021 Report indicates:

The NCA’s 2021 report shows that, although Grocery sold more chocolates, c-store sold the most in term of gum and mints.

Grocery:

  • $7.1 Billion in candy
  • $4.6 Billion in chocolate
  • $1.8 Billion non-chocolate
  • $740 Million in gum and mints

Convenience:

  • $6.0 Billion in candy
  • $2.9 Billion chocolate
  • $2.2 Billion in non-chocolate

$957 Million in gum and mints

*NCA Definitions (2020)

  • Young Millennials: ages 23 to 28
  • Older Millennials: ages 29 to 38
  • Generation X: ages 39 to 54
  • Young Baby Boomers: ages 55-62
  • Older Baby Boomers: ages 63-72

References: https://candyusa.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Getting_to_Know_Chocolate_Consumers_FINAL_for_website_store.pdf
https://candyusa.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/2021_State-Of-Treating_Bite-Sized-Taste.pdf

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