retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times had a story over the weekend about "wave of gas stations and convenience stores capitalizing on a growing demand for fresh, healthful and convenient road food," and they're doing so by creating restaurant operations that differentiate them from the competition. "Encouraged by the changing tastes of consumers and the potential for profit, a metamorphosis has taken place in at least 1,500 locations nationwide: at independent gas stations as well as those owned by oil giants like Shell and Exxon and convenience store chains like 7-Eleven."

As a result, the story continues, "roller-grilled hot dogs and little packaged cakes of indefinite shelf life are, in many places, giving way to fresh produce, elaborate sandwiches and even grilled tilapia and Korean bibimbap. Popular food trucks and food carts are adding to the variety, many setting up shop just feet from gas pumps to take advantage of a steady stream of customers."

Indeed, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) says that "an estimated 10 percent of the 154,000 convenience stores across the country — a $31 billion industry — could be described as food-forward."

You can read the entire piece - at the risk, quite frankly, of getting hungry - here.
KC's View:
It strikes me that one of the interesting things about this trend is the fact that independent retailers are just as able to take advantage of the trend as big chain operators. In fact, they may be more nimble, and better able to shift with trends. And the ability to use food trucks to create an easily changeable culinary calendar adds to the possibilities.

The best news about this is the growing sense that a business strategy that embraces higher-common-denominator food is one that can drive a business to greater success.