Across the U.S. retail landscape, the convenience channel has been the offline channel to watch over the past year. With the country in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience channel is poised to be even more dominant as stay-at-home restrictions are lifted.  

Baking staples, for example, aren’t common on the shelves at most C-stores, but sales of the category have been on an upward trend across the U.S. since the week of March 14, 2020, as consumers settled into restricted living conditions. As consumers begin to evolve into their new normal, convenience stores can put themselves into the consideration set for these new need states.

Last November, Nielsen forecasted that the U.S. convenience channel would grow faster than all other offline channels over the next five years. Consumers also don’t typically think of C-stores as a good source for things like eggs and butter. These staples, however, are generating stronger sales as consumers spend more time at home.

Recent trends in C-store data does show a lesser decline in year-over-year sales trends, indicating that the channel is seeing some benefit from eased restrictions and consumers receiving their stimulus checks. 

The global pandemic has sparked an unprecedented spike in shopping for consumer packaged goods (CPG). At the onset of the pandemic, the shopping trended toward shelf-stable items and sanitizers. As consumers became comfortable in restricted living, supply chain strains evolved to personal care and hair care categories.

Importantly, C-stores aren’t known for the in-demand categories that have tracked massive growth over the past several months, yet they could be. Sales of a few categories, however, are selling better at C-stores than they are in aggregate across the entire landscape.