College Students a Growing Customer Base for Convenience Stores, Reports NPD

The spending ability of this emerging demographic continues to evolve.

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For foodservice operators in the convenience store segments, college students represent an emerging opportunity to enhance their businesses. That's because student c-store usage has grown across virtually all spending components and product dollars grew 15 percent over a year ago, according to the NPD report, Making the Grade: Student Consumer Impact on the Retail Fuels and Convenience Marketplace.

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The report also finds that 31.9 percent of college students' c-store purchases are an impulse buy, compared to 22.7 percent of other c-store shoppers' purchases. "Students with money to spend represent a growing population — and a significant opportunity — worth convenience store marketers' attention," says David Portalatin, NPD's director of industry analysis. "Opportunities exist for c-store retailers to tap into student impulse purchasing through strategic product placement, bundling, loyalty programs, and dealing to increase student purchasing."

College students, ages 18-24, made 351.4 million visits to convenience stores and spent approximately $5.2 billion on c-store products in the 12 months ending June 2012, according to The NPD Group. With the population of full- and part-time college students currently at 19 million, college students discretionary spending reached $76 billion last year, up $2 billion from the year before.

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