ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The U.S. convenience store count increased to a record 148,126 stores as of December 31, 2011, a 1.2% increase (1,785 stores) from the year prior, according to the latest NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.
The convenience retailing industry has seen remarkable growth over the last three decades, said NACS. At year-end 1981, the store count was 71,400 stores, year-end 1991 the store count was 103,400 stores and at year-end 2001 the store count was 124,500 stores.
The U.S. population on December 31, 2011, was an estimated 313 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That means that today there is one c-store per approximately every 2,100 U.S. residents.
"The continued growth in store count shows our industry is vibrant and adding jobs in difficult economic times. Convenience stores are an essential part of the fabric of everyday life across the country and our core offer of convenience continues to resonate with customers," said NACS chairman Tom Robinson, president of Robinson Oil, Santa Clara, Calif.
Motor fuels sales continue to be important to c-store operations. Overall, 81.7% of c-stores sell motor fuels. A total of 120,950 c-stores sell motor fuels, a 3.1% increase (3,653 stores) over last year.
The convenience retailing industry also continues to be dominated by single-store operators, accounting for 62.9% of stores (93,209 stores total). The growth of one-store operations again outpaced the overall growth in store count.
Texas (14,766 stores) once again was the state with the most c-stores, followed by California (10,763) and Florida (9,510). New York (7,929) and Georgia (6,535) round out the top five; North Carolina (6,269), Ohio (5,359), Michigan (4,865), Illinois (4,553) and Virginia (4,512) round out the top 10.
Five states had store counts grow at a rate that was more than double the national average: New Jersey (3.3% growth), Alaska (3.2%), Massachusetts (2.7%), Oregon (2.7%) and New York (2.6%). Growth in Washington, D.C., was 2.9%.
According to Nielsen TDLinx, as of December 31, 2011, the total count of c-stores is approximately 30,000 locations greater than the cumulative totals of competing channels, including supermarkets (32,924 stores), drug stores (38,526 stores) dollar stores (22,782 stores) and superettes (13,234 stores).
Click here for more details on the c-store count.
Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. c-store industry, with more than 148,000 stores across the country, posted $575 billion in total sales in 2010, of which $385 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,200 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies that do business in nearly 50 countries.