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Foodservice offered by grocery and convenience stores is a far cry from the rotisserie chicken and hot dogs that were staples of these outlets a decade ago. Supermarkets and convenience stores (c-stores) are raising the bar on their foodservice offerings and an increasing number of consumers are choosing these outlets for their prepared meals and snacks in addition to quick-service restaurants, reports The NPD Group, a global information company.
Quick and convenient food from c-stores and supermarkets has incrementally added customers to the fast-food/foodservice market, according to NPD’s QSR Plus Retail Market Monitor, a continuous, daily tracker that monitors awareness, trial, and usage for quick-serve operators in major markets and nationally. Further, the number of fast-food purchases made at retail outlets per customer in the March 2015 through June 2015 period is over six visits higher than those made to quick serves in an average four-week period.
The majority of consumers are using multiple channels, retail outlets, and quick serves when purchasing prepared meals and snacks. Less than one-quarter of quick-serve customers are going only to a traditional fast-food outlet in a four-week period. Most quick-service customers are using all available retail channels to meet their quick meal requirements. Those who are exclusive traditional quick-serve customers are more likely to dine in at the restaurant than customers who use multiple channels for quick service.
C-stores hold its highest shares of these product categories: coffee, snacks, breakfast foods, soft drinks, and Mexican foods. Quick serves offering morning meals are the most likely to feel the impact of c-stores on their customer base. The morning occasions are likely in-and-out, grab-and-go visits where convenience and fast service trump quick-service chain preference. Between meal and snack purchases are another vulnerable time of day for quick serves, reports NPD. Grocery stores hold a high share of purchases of chicken, side dishes, and salads. These stores are providing an easy and convenient ready-to-consume meal for multiple family members.
“Consumers use [quick serves], convenience, and grocery stores interchangeably for fast food, particularly when they find the same quality and variety,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “The lines between retail foodservice and [quick serves] are blurring for consumers, and these channels are competing for visits from consumers looking for a quick meal or snack.”