Convenience, gas retailer Sheetz successfully changes consumer perception

Retailer establishes its stores as go-to food destinations

BOSTON — Permanently changing consumer perception of what can and cannot be found in any particular channel can be done, and convenience and gas retailer Sheetz is proof of it.

Where once only dollar-bag chips and hours-old rotisserie “dogs” served as hot lunch options at convenience stores, Sheetz established its touchscreen ordering systems that allow consumers to choose from a wide variety of customized lunch items.

Not only did Sheetz successfully establish its stores as go-to food destinations, the company also redefined who shops at those gas stations. “You want to talk about a really innovative format that makes it fun and exciting for even women to shop the convenience store, this is [the] one,” Todd Hale, SVP consumer and shopper insights for Nielsen, told attendees of a Sunday morning event jointly hosted by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. (Click here for exclusive full coverage of the event.)

The opportunity for the drug channel is there, he added. While the largest categories sold at the pharmacy include many over-the-counter medicines, the fastest-growing categories — with at least $60 million in annual sales — are all food and beverage items, Hale said.

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