Convenience Stores Could Become A Major Fast Food Competitor

Ah, the good ol' convenience store, also called the corner store, the bodega, the packie, the variety store, and many more names depending on your geography. Known for stocking grocery essentials such as toilet paper, candy, soft drinks, coffee, canned and packaged foods and snacks. While perhaps not as exciting and varied as a full-fledged grocery store, these little shops have saved the day on many occasions, such as when we're bleary-eyed on the way to work and craving a quick source of caffeine, or unexpectedly entertaining friends and in need of a six-pack.

In the past, many of us have probably limited our convenience store purchases to beer, soda, and the occasional can of tuna. But in these trying economic times, when Americans are managing severe inflation that's taking a toll on their grocery store budgets, spending habits are changing in so many ways. People are increasingly dining in fast food restaurants instead of full service ones, according to, and another way they're trying to save a buck is by frequenting convenience stores for meals more often.

Many Americans consider grabbing a quick meal at a convenience store

Move over, quick service restaurants, because it looks like convenience stores might be joining your ranks as a preferred destination for quick meals among an increasing number of Americans. According to new data compiled by Bluedot, diners challenged by ballooning inflation and food prices are increasingly turning to bodegas and even gas stations as a source of an inexpensive meal. 

In its inaugural Convenience Experience Report, the location technology company shared some key findings about visits to convenient stores — of the 1,570 American adults surveyed, 59% consider buying a meal at a food mart when making a stop for fast food, with one in four respondents regularly eating lunch in a convenience store.

Per the report, meal options popular among variety store diners include fast food, refrigerator case items such as sandwiches, hot food such as pizza, and made-to-order food such as deli sandwiches. And Bluedot's data lines up with reporting published by CNN Business in early 2020 — at the onset of the pandemic, the outlet wrote, more and more Americans were regularly grabbing food at chains like 7-Eleven, Wa-Wa, and Sheetz — a trend that has been brewing for some time. Over the past 10 years, the outlet report convenience store chains' sales have gone up by about 30%.

Convenience stores are expanding their meal offerings in response to demand

According to CNN Business, diners' increased interest in food marts as a restaurant option isn't going unnoticed by convenience store chain executives. In response to that increased interest, the news organization reported that chains such as the Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip are expanding prepared food options made in on-site kitchens, as well as hiring restaurant executives in order to help advise on those new food offerings. That chain has also added take-home dinners and fried chicken to its in-store offerings, while 7-Eleven now counts private-label meal kits, keto snacks, and even its own line of wine among its options.

Casey's, a midwestern bodega chain based in Iowa, really seems to be making a bid to become a restaurant chain, CNN reported. Over the years, the chain has vastly expanded its from-scratch pizza offerings, in varieties such as a bacon-topped breakfast pizza and loaded nacho-style taco pizza. Founded in 1968, Casey's is now the country's fifth-largest pizza chain (via CNN). As Darren Rebelez, the chain's chief executive officer, told the outlet, "This isn't what a lot of people would characterize as gas station food."