Even your spare grocery store is struggling to keep it stocked

But if they’re hoping to be able to head to a neighborhood convenience store to buy some daily necessities, they might be lucky there too.

Convenience stores often serve as the ideal substitute for groceries when all that’s needed is a bucket of water, a few bags of chips, or maybe just a carton of milk.

That makes local stores perfect for a trip, said Arie Kotler, president and chief executive officer of Arko Corp., which operates more than 1,400 small convenience stores in 28 states. go fast mid week.

But convenience store operators say ongoing supply chain disruptions have also affected their ability to fully meet the shopping needs of shoppers in larger cities and More important are the daily necessities of customers in secondary markets and rural areas, where a convenience store may be the only store in town for food items.

A TXB store in Georgetown Texas.  In many small towns and rural communities, convenience stores are an important lifeline for everyday needs.

Kevin Smartt, CEO of Texas-based convenience store chain TXB (which stands for Texas Born) has been closely monitoring weekly product availability reports from his distributors. .

The company operates 50 stores across Texas and Oklahoma. Each location averages 4,500 square feet, serving a mix of freshly prepared foods like tacos, salads and sandwiches along with a variety of packaged take-out goods. Some locations also sell fruit and vegetables.

“This is the extent of the problem right now,” Smartt said. “As a chain, we can get an average of 6,500 to 8,000 orders a week from manufacturers,” he said. ‘Out of stock’ refers to a specific brand-name product that is out of stock and cannot be delivered that week.

That is a very high number. Across TXB, out-of-stock products are currently at an average of 12% to 13%, Smartt said. “In a normal environment, it would be about 1.5%.”

Smartt said the usual backup plan would be to re-supply the product with a different brand, but even that proved difficult.

Convenience stores are having a hard time maintaining adequate inventory due to supply chain issues that have brought production and delivery to a halt.

“It’s a daily struggle to buy alternative brands from alternative suppliers for the products we carry. It’s a war zone because everyone is doing the same thing.” he said. “It’s a logistical nightmare and sometimes the substitutes we have to buy are even more expensive.”

Although TXB has stores in larger cities such as Austin, Texas, most of its locations are in small towns, many with only 2,000 to 3,000 residents, which is the only store in the city. town, he said.

“In those places, convenience stores are a lifeline for the community,” Smartt said. “There’s a lot of frustration from customers. Anything above the supply chain challenges, such as bad weather, is making the situation worse.”

“In a lot of communities, we are the main”

A RoadRunner convenience store owned by Arko Corp in Blountville, Tennessee.  .

It’s also a challenge for Arko, which has most of its stores in small towns and rural areas.

“In a lot of communities, we are it,” said Mike Welsh, senior vice president of corporate operations. “It’s a town surrounded by mountains, for example. There’s a high school and a town hall. It’s a small community where the school football team comes to us after a game to celebrate. “

These communities tend to rely more on local convenience stores than grocery shopping.

“A local health department contacted us about a store in southwestern Virginia to use it as a mobile vaccination site,” Welsh said. The Omicron variant has spread through Arco’s private store staffalthough Welsh said stores have so far avoided closing.
The majority of Arko-owned convenience stores are located in small towns and rural areas.

Many of Arco’s locations have kitchens that prepare ready-to-eat foods like pizza and chicken, Welsh says. Other products are what you would normally expect to find in a convenience store – bottled water, soft drinks, chips and candy.

Other goods have been added during the pandemic, such as soaps, masks and disinfectant wipes. “The community relies on us for all of these products. For us, especially in our markets, it’s important to have an adequate supply chain of oil up and running quickly,” he said. he said.

Like TXB, Welsh said shoppers at Arko-owned convenience stores have fewer choices due to a slowing supply chain. “We’re trying to fill the void with substitutes, and sometimes we just can’t,” he said.

Not knowing what day they will be able to buy due to lack of goods is worrying customers.

At an Arko store, Welsh recently saw a group of customers queuing early, before the delivery trucks were expected to arrive. “They’re out there waiting for the truck to unload, hoping to get what they need,” he said.

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