After several years where business was anything but usual, the dynamics of the c-store industry played out against a more composed, settled background.

With the 2022 NACS show in the books, the trade show season is winding down. So is the calendar year. Though holiday promotions will keep the industry busy through to December 31, enough time has passed to take a brief look back at the year we’re finishing up.

Let’s start by mentioning what 2022 wasn’t: It wasn’t headlined by direct responses to COVID. That’s noteworthy and, frankly, a relief. No one can possibly define what the “new normal” for the industry might be—it’s always dynamic and changing—but 2022 at least seemed more composed and settled.

The best operators have been emphasizing their merchandise and store experience for over a decade, fine-tuning their inventory, and emphasizing attractions like progressive approaches to Food Service. In 2022, some operators decided to double down on the non-fuel aspects of their store that made customers seek them out in the first place.

Here’s what else we know about 2022:

  • As noted in our two-part blog post, autonomous checkout is on the rise and likely to continue being adapted by a larger number of retailers, including c-stores.
  • Though somewhat slowed, the appetite for mergers continues throughout the industry, and certainly was evident throughout the greater part of 2022.
  • Technological advances are seeing the car wash play a larger role in the c-store’s profitability mix, something small operators can capitalize on as well as large chains.
  • And speaking of smaller independents, despite facing the same challenges as larger operators, they came through in 2022, persevered, and found themselves poised for the future.
  • In terms of individual store performance, here’s a place where you can download Convenience Store News’ top 100 c-stores of 2022. You might find a few familiar names on that list.
  • Last, but not least, let’s look at a possible trend for beyond 2022: an automated system to clean c-store restrooms!

If 2022 serves to illustrate anything, it’s that c-store industry remains a font of opportunity for retailers of all sizes, from the biggest chains to stores singularly and uniquely focused on the needs of their local community. In the meantime, SSCS will be there every step of the way, providing robust software with the flexibility and adaptability to add profit and efficiency to a broad range of always-adapting operators. It’s the kind of variety that keeps things interesting around SSCS.

Here’s to everyone’s continued success in 2023!