The convenience store industry has an advantage over other consumer services brands in part because of its emphasis on, well, convenience. About 80 percent of goods purchased at convenience stores are consumed within an hour, and 60 percent are consumed immediately, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.
For the 7-Eleven chain, which has opened its 40,000th store, that means being everywhere is a good thing. But industry watchers say 7-Eleven and its competitors are going to have to do more than open new stores in order to keep expanding. 7-Eleven's advantage is that while its scale allows for efficiencies, buying power, and brand awareness, the company is still very nimble for an operation of its size.
Where the chain is headed now is "fresh." Cigarettes are still the top-selling item at 7-Eleven, as is the case with the overall industry, but the company is working to grow the number of fresh items it sells. Fresh can mean better margins and proprietary products that entice consumers to come into stores. Expect to see more hot foods and bakery items.
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