Basket Boosters

Twelve Opportunities to Increase Transaction Sizes

LAS VEGAS -- Anyone who has sat through a presentation on convenience store sales data by Management Science Associates’ Don Burke knows this feeling: a brain exhausted by all the information, and yet buzzing to take action on it all. Burke’s education session at this year’s NACS Show, titled “Basket Mission Analysis,” was no exception, as the research firm’s senior vice president powered through more than 100 slides loaded with insights to help increase market-basket size.

What follows are 12 insights culled from Burke’s session. His entire presentation is available on the NACS Show website.

1. The top five categories by percent increase in dollar sales vs. a year ago are e-cigarettes, automotive products, alternative snacks, candy and general merchandise. Bottom five categories by percent change in dollar sales are prepaid cards, perishable grocery, publications, edible grocery and packaged ice cream/novelties. These categories aren’t dying, said Burke; rather, they may simply need some sku rationalization.

2. Categories with the smallest basket rings: publications, hot dispensed, cold dispensed. Does this mean ignore them? "No, it means that's where the opportunity lies," said Burke.

3. Twenty-nine percent of baskets that include frozen foods have 5-plus items, compared to just 4% of all transactions. This is greatly influenced by the weekends, "when you're store is shopped not like a convenience store, but like a small grocer," said Burke.

4. Thirty-two percent of all publication sales in the c-store occur on Sundays, according to MSA. How can you build up that market basket with more weekend necessities?

5. Foodservice is big during the week, and not so great on weekends. Sales peak on Fridays and are at their lowest on Saturday and Sunday despite Saturday being the second highest day for total in-store sales. Consider driving weekend foodservice traffic with occasion-based foods for parties or sporting events.

6. Hot-dispensed beverages peak in October/November at 10% of sales each. What do you need to do to maintain that sales momentum in December, January and February?

7. Beer and liquor sales peak in July, while wine sales peak in December, so plan your sets and promos accordingly.

8. The categories with largest total basket ring are wine and e-cigarettes. The lowest basket rings come from publications, hot dispensed and cold dispensed. Again, this doesn’t mean to ignore the latter categories; “It means that's where the opportunity lies,” said Burke.

9. What's the difference between number of items purchased by day of week? Nothing at all. So where are the missed opportunities based on shopping occasions?

10. Rings are highest on Saturday and Sunday ($7.04 vs. $6.75 overall). Grocery and alcohol see the most notable increase in average basket ring on those days. Should you change your promotions, impulse items or secondary displays on the weekend?

11. While premium-cigarette shoppers do not typically buy budget brands, budget shoppers will sometimes buy premium. What does that mean for your set?

12. Microbrew-beer market basket ring is higher than all other beer segments, and not just because of the price of the beer. These shoppers tend to spend $6.38 on other categories vs. $5.31 by imported-beer buyers, $4.92 by premium-beer buyers and $3.55 by budget-beer buyers. What types of cross-promotions can you offer these shoppers?