Alcohol is the most important category to c-store retailers, according to our survey.
Amy Lanning has the results

The original convenience categories of alcohol, confectionery and tobacco are the most important to retailers' businesses, according to an exclusive survey by Convenience Store magazine.
The study of 200 independent retailers, conducted by The Knowledge Store on our behalf, reveals that 54% of retailers cited the alcohol category as their number one product area in 2006, and 14% and 12% respectively claimed confectionery and tobacco as their top categories.
Alcohol and confectionery also look like being the best categories this year in convenience with 55% and 15% of respondents citing these as their expected top performers for 2007. But forthcoming tobacco legislation may already be having an impact on the retailers' psyche, as the number of respondents expecting tobacco to be their top category this year dropped a few points to 10%.
The footfall-driving news and magazines category plays an important role, with 9% citing it as their number one product area, and 7% putting it among their three best performing categories. Crisps and snacks is the best product area for just 5% of retailers, but in the top three for 34%.
While fresh and chilled food is relatively low in the performance stakes, it's clearly one to watch as 14% of retailers plan to invest in new chillers this year. Almost a third of respondents have plans to invest in new equipment in 2007, with 9% saying they would be introducing new shelving, 4% new freezers,
and 2% planned a full refit or store extension.
When it comes to services, a quarter of retailers intended to introduce something new in 2007, with 12% introducing PayPoint or Payzone. The majority would be opting for PayPoint.
Cash machines were also high on the agenda for store owners, with 6% of retailers planning to install one in their store this year.
Most retailers have no intention of increasing or decreasing space for any categories this year, but for those who are looking at expansion it will be in fresh and chilled and local produce, with 3% of retailers planning to dedicate more space to these newer convenience categories.
While 91% of those quizzed had no plans to decrease space for any categories this year, it may be no surprise that 5% intended to reduce their grocery fixture.

Q1 Which of the following
PRODUCT categories were IN YOUR TOP 3 BEST PERFORMERS last year?

Alcohol 76%
Confectionery 53%
Tobacco 41%
Crisps & snacks 34%
News & magazines 21%
Grocery 20%
Soft drinks 19%
Fresh & chilled 8%
Bakery/food to go 5%
Local produce 4%

Q2 What was your
number one performing category last year?

Alcohol 54%
Confectionery 14%
Tobacco 12%
News & magazines 9%
Crisps & snacks 5%

Q3 What do you expect to
be IN your TOP 3 performing categories this year?

Alcohol 75%
Confectionery 53%
Tobacco 39%
Crisps & snacks 33%
Grocery 22%
News & magazines 21%
Soft drinks 20%
Don't know 9%
Bakery/food to go 8%
Fresh & chilled 8%
Local produce 4%

Q4 What do you expect to be your number one performing category this year?

Alcohol 55%
Confectionery 15%
Tobacco 10%
News & magazines 9%
Crisps & snacks 6%

Q5 Which categories do you intend to increase space for?

None 81%
Alcohol 5%
Grocery 4%
Fresh & chilled 3%
Local produce 3%
News & magazines 3%
Confectionery 2%
Other 2%

Q6 Which categories do you intend to decrease space for?

None 91%
Grocery 5%
Other 4%
Q7 Will you be introducing any new equipment this year?
No 69%
Yes 31%

Q8 What equipment will you be introducing?

Chillers 14%
Shelving 9%
Freezers 4%
Full refit/extension 2%
Coffee machine 2%
Bake-off 2%
Other 3%

Q9 Will you be introducing any new services this year?
No 75%
Yes 25%

Q10 What new services will you be introducing?

Paypoint/Payzone 12%
Cash machine 6%
Mobile top-up 2%
National Lottery 1.5%
Photocopier 1.5%
Post office 1%
Other 2.5%

Survey carried out by The Knowledge Store, week beginning January 15