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A convenience store is a small store or shop that sells items such as candy, ice-cream, soft drinks, lottery tickets, cigarettes and other tobacco products, newspapers and magazines, along with a selection of processed food and perhaps some groceries. Stores that are part of gas stations may also sell motor oil, windshield washer fluid, radiator fluid, and maps. Often toiletries and other hygiene products are stocked, and some of these stores also offer money orders and wire transfer services or liquor products. They are often located alongside busy roads, in densely-populated urban neighborhoods, at gas/petrol stations or near railway station or other transportation hubs. In some countries most convenience stores have longer shopping hours, some being open 24 hours.


Various types exist, for example: liquor stores (off-licences–offies), mini-markets (mini-marts) or party stores. Typically junk food (candy, ice-cream, soft drinks), lottery tickets, newspapers and magazines are sold. Unless the outlet is a liquor store, the range of alcohol beverages is likely to be limited (i.e. beer and wine) or non-existent. Most stores carry cigarettes and other tobacco products. Varying degrees of food and grocery supplies are usually available, from household products, to prepackaged foods like sandwiches and frozen burrito. Automobile-related items such as motor oil, maps and car kits may be sold. Often toiletries and other hygiene products are stocked, as well as feminine hygiene and contraception. Some of these stores also offer money orders and wire transfer services. Convenience stores that are near fishing destinations may carry live bait, such as nightcrawlers or crickets.

The most common type of foods offered in convenience stores are breakfast sandwiches and other breakfast food. Throughout Europe convenience stores now sell fresh French bread (or similar). A process of freezing part-baked bread allows easy shipment (often from France) and baking in-store. Some stores have a delicatessen counter, offering custom-made sandwiches and baguettes. Others have racks offering fresh delivered or baked doughnuts from local doughnut shops. Some stores have a self-service microwave oven for heating purchased food. In Hong Kong, convenience stores even provide lunch and dinner.

In the US, some fast food chains offer a counter in convenience stores. Instead of cooking food in the store, these counters offer a limited menu of items delivered several times a day from a local branch of the restaurant. Convenience stores may be combined with other services, such as a train station ticket counter, post office counter or a petrol pumps. In Asian countries, like Japanmarker or Taiwanmarker, convenience stores are more common because of the higher population density. They are found with gas and train stations, but also can be stand-alone stores. Here, items like soft drinks or snacks are sold. Hot dogs, sausages, hard boiled tea eggs, and fish cake can be found in stores. Delicatessens are absent, instead pre-made sandwiches can be bought. Non-food products like magazines are also sold, but at a lesser extent.

Differences from supermarkets

Although larger, newer convenience stores have quite a broad range of items, the selection is still limited compared to supermarkets, and in many stores only 1 or 2 choices are available. Prices in a convenience store are typically higher than at a supermarket, mass merchandise store, or auto supply store (with the exception of the goods such as milk, soda and fuel in which convenience stores traditionally do high volume and sometimes use as loss leaders ).

In the US, the stores are sometimes the only stores and services near an interstate highway exit where drivers can buy any kind of food or drink for miles. Most of the profit margin from these stores comes from beer, liquor, and cigarettes. Although those three categories themselves usually yield lower margins per item, the amount of sales in these categories generally makes up for it. Profits per item are much higher on deli items (bags of ice, chicken, etc), but sales are generally lower. In some countries most convenience stores have longer shopping hours, some being open 24 hours.

By country


Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which operates Couche-Tard, Provi-Soir, Dépanneur 7, Mac's Convenience Stores and Beckers Milk, is the largest convenience store chain in Canada. Another large chain is Quickie Mart (whose name predates the fictitious "Kwik-E-Mart" featured on The Simpsons). The world's largest convenience retailer, 7-Eleven, has about 500 locations from British Columbiamarker to Ontariomarker. Worldwide, the highest number of the chain's famous Slurpee beverages are sold in Winnipegmarker, Manitobamarker; the city is known as the "Slurpee Capital of the World". Marketing itself as "more than just a convenience store," there are over 150 Hasty Market locations throughout Ontario.

Convenience stores are also commonly referred to as "corner stores" or "variety stores" in some regions of Canada. In the mostly French-speaking province of Quebecmarker, a convenience store is known as a "dépanneur," or "dep" for short[7660]. "Dépanneur" means literally "one who gets you out of a jam".


Convenience stores developed tremendously in Japanmarker. 7-Eleven Japan, while struggling to localize their service in the 1970s to 1980s, evolved its point of sale-based business. Ultimately, Seven & I Holdings Co., the parent company of 7-Eleven Japan, acquired 7-Eleven (US) from Southland Corporation in 1991. Japanese-style convenience stores also heavily influenced those stores in other Asian nations, such as Taiwanmarker, Thailandmarker, South Koreamarker, and Chinamarker.

Convenience stores rely heavily on the point of sale. Customers' ages, gender, as well as tomorrow's weather forecast, are important data. Stores place all orders on-line. As their store sizes are limited, they have to be very careful in choosing what brands to sell. In many cases, several stores from the same chain do business in neighboring areas. This strategy makes distribution to each store cheaper. It also makes multiple distributions per a day possible. Generally, foods are delivered to each store two to five times a day from factories. Since products are delivered as needed, stores do not need large stock areas.

According to the The Japan Franchise Association, (data pertaining to the month of July 2009), there are 42,345 convenience stores in Japan. Among them, 7-Eleven leads the market with 12,467 stores, followed by Lawson (9,562) and FamilyMart (7,604). Most items available in larger supermarkets can be found in Japanese convenience stores. In addition, the following additional services are also commonly available:

Some stores also sell charging service for electronic money and ATM services for credit card or consumer finance. Items not commonly sold include Slurpees, lottery tickets, car supplies, and gasoline.


Major convenience stores in Singaporemarker are 7-Eleven owned by Dairy Farm International Holdings and Cheers owned by NTUC Fairprice. Figures from the Singapore Department of Statistics showed that there are 338 7-Eleven stores and 91 Cheers outlets in 2004. Other convenience stores such as Myshop and One Plus appeared in 1983. Myshop belongs to a Japanese company, and One Plus belongs to Emporium Holdings.

Various reasons unique to Singapore have been given for the great popularity of convenience stores there. Convenience stores sell a wide range of imported goods, whereas minimarts and provision shops sell local products with a limited range of non-Asian products. Convenience stores are situated within housing estates thus reducing consumers’ traveling time. Most families in Singapore are dual-income families. Since both the husband and wife are working, there is greater need for convenience in shopping for daily necessities. The 24 hour opening policy allows convenience stores to reach out to a larger group of consumers. Firstly, the policy caters to the shopping needs of consumers who work shifts or have irregular working hours. Secondly, the policy caters to the increasing number of Singaporeans who are keeping late nights. It was reported that 54% of Singaporeans stayed up past midnight in an economic review by Price Waterhouse Coopersmarker (PWC) in 2005.


7-Eleven under a block of apartments

7-Eleven began the trend of convenience stores in Singaporemarker when it opened its first store in 1982 by Jardine Matheson Group, under a franchise agreement with Southland Corporation of the United Statesmarker. Dairy Farm International Holdings acquired the chain from Jardine Matheson Group in 1989.

The number of 7-Eleven outlets continued to increase in 1984 while other chains were having difficulty in expanding. One Plus was unable to expand due to the shortage of good sites. The original owners of the Myshop franchise, which had seven outlets, sold out to one of its suppliers due to a lack of demand.

However, in 1985, 7-Eleven faced difficulty in finding favourable locations and failed to meet its one-store-a-month target. The situation improved in 1986 with a new Housing Development Board (HDB) tendering system, which allowed 7-Eleven to secure shops without having to bid too high a price. 7-Eleven stores are open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, including Sundays and public holidays. This 24/7 policy was seen as the reason that gave 7-Eleven its edge over its competitors.

In 1990, there was a rise in the number of shop thefts in 7-Eleven. The shoplifters were usually teenagers who stole small items such as chocolates, cigarettes and beer. In response to the increase in the number of thefts, 7-Eleven stepped up security measures, which successfully lowered the crime rate by 60%


Notice posted at Cheers to deter robbery
Cheers is owned by local corporation NTUC Fairprice, started in 1999. Cheers has adopted 7-Eleven’s 24/7 model and taken similar security measures to prevent cases of shop lifting. Convenience store owners seeking franchising seem to prefer Cheers over 7-Eleven, probably due to its cheaper franchise fee.


Boasting more than 9,100 convenience stores in an area of 35,980 km² and a population of 23 million, Taiwanmarker has Asia Pacific’s and perhaps the world’s highest density of convenience stores per person: one store per 2,500 people or .000397 stores per person (convenience store - Wikipedia, October 2007). With 4,665 7-Eleven stores, Taiwan also has the world’s highest density of 7-Elevens per person: one store per 4,930 people or .000203 stores per person (International Licensing page of 7-Eleven website). In Taipeimarker, it is not unusual to see two 7-Elevens across the street or several of them within a few hundreds of meters of each other.

Because they are found everywhere, convenience stores in Taiwan provide services on behalf of financial institutions or government agencies such as collection of city parking fees, utility bills, traffic violation fines, and credit card payments. Eighty percent of urban household shoppers in Taiwan visit a convenience store each week (2005 ACNielsen ShopperTrends).

United States

The first chain convenience store in the United Statesmarker was opened in Dallas, Texasmarker in 1927 by the Southland Ice Company, which eventually became 7-Eleven, the largest convenience store chain. Circle K, another large company-owned convenience store chain, was founded in 1951. Since that time many different convenience store brands have developed, and their stores may either be corporate-owned or franchises. The items offered for sale tend to be similar despite store brand, and almost always include milk, bread, soft drinks, cigarettes, phone cards, coffee, slushees, candy bars, Twinkies, Slim Jims, hot dogs, ice cream, candy, gum, lip balm, chips, pretzels, popcorn, beef jerky, doughnuts, maps, magazines, newspapers, small toys, car supplies, feminine hygiene products, cat food, dog food, and toilet paper. Other less common items include sandwiches, pizza, and frozen foods. Nearly all convenience stores also have an automated teller machine (ATM), though other banking services are usually not available. State lottery tickets are also available at these stores.

Some convenience stores in the United States also sell gasoline. Policies regarding the sale of adult magazines vary, but generally larger chains (such as 7-Eleven and Casey's General Stores) do not sell these items, while smaller independent stores may do so. One notable exception to this "rule" is fast-growing regional chain Sheetz, which does sell some soft-core pornographic material such as Playboy (including its various "special" issues), Penthouse, and Playgirl.

Because the laws regarding the sale of alcoholic beverages vary from state to state in the United States, the availability of beer, wine, and liquor varies greatly. For example, while convenience stores in Alaskamarker, Pennsylvaniamarker and New Jerseymarker cannot sell any kind of alcohol at all, stores in Nevadamarker and Californiamarker may sell alcoholic beverages of any sort, while stores in Virginiamarker, Washingtonmarker, or Oregonmarker can sell beer and wine, but not liquor. Similar to grocery stores, convenience stores in New Yorkmarker can sell beer only, not wine or liquor. Altoona, Pennsylvaniamarker-based Sheetz tried to find a loophole in 2007 by classifying part of one of their prototype stores in Altoona as a restaurant, which would permit alcohol sales. However, state courts in Pennsylvaniamarker promptly overruled this. Sheetz continues to sell alcohol in other states.


American convenience stores are often a direct target of armed robbery. In some areas of the United States, it is not uncommon for clerks to work behind a bulletproof glass window, even during daylight hours. Some convenience stores even restrict access inside at night, requiring customers to go to a walk-up window specifically for such situations to make purchases. The main dangers are that almost all convenience stores have only one person working the night shift, most of the transactions are in cash, and easily resold merchandise, such as liquor, lottery tickets and cigarettes are on the premises. Most convenience stores have a cash drop slot into a time-delay safe so clerks may limit the amount of cash on hand. Many have installed security cameras to help prevent robberies and shoplifting.

Because of their vulnerability to crime, nearly all convenience stores have a friendly relationship with the local police. Some even provide a small police substation in the store, and traditionally provide free coffee to police officers. Police officers often patrol the parking lot of a convenience store, especially after the closing time of bars to apprehend drunk drivers.

To decrease break-ins while the convience store is closed, some convience stores will probably have bars on the windows.

Regional names

Regional differences in terms exist. In certain parts of the Midwestern United States, locals prefer to use the term party store or corner store. The term party store is said to come from post prohibition times when you could buy liquor or beer again, hence to throw a party. In New York Citymarker, an independent convenience store is commonly referred to as a Deli or Bodega. The latter term lately turns up in city newspapers and reflects the influx of Hispanics to the city proper, but would be unrecognized to European-Americans who have moved to the suburbs and would recall terms like "corner store," "the candy store" or "tobacco shop" or commonly the name of whatever the owner of the store would be- "Frank's," "Bernie's," etc. In general,the word Bodega is sometimes used wherever there is a large enough hispanic population. In New Englandmarker, a number of regional terms are used to refer to small, independent convenience stores. In Northern New England (e.g. Maine, New Hampshire), some convenience stores bear the name "superette." In the Merrimack Valley of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the term "variety store" is often used. A Massachusetts-specific term (found most often in the Boston area) for a small convenience store is "spa," referring to the once "healthy" bubbly soda-fountain drinks first served around the turn of the 20th century. This term has become less common in recent years but can still be spotted. In Charlotte, North Carolina a chain convenience store is often referred to as a "stab and grab" due to its proximity to areas of high crime. For the same reason, in the City of Rochester - "Stop N' Rob" is a common variant as a play on words for the store, "Stop N' Go." In the San Antoniomarker region of Texasmarker, a convenience store is commonly referred to as an "icehouse."

In the UK, they are referred to as "off-licenses" ("offies" for short - from the legal term for a licence to sell alcohol for consumption off the premises), "corner shops" (from the typical location on a street corner), "newsagent's" (from their role in selling newspapers) or, if associated with a petrol station, "the garage". Shops with a greater trend towards groceries or food are more often known by their actual trading name, such as SPAR or Co-Op. In the Hindi-speaking parts of Indiamarker, they're called Kiraana shops. Most of them are run by people from the state of Rajasthanmarker. In New Zealand, an independent convenience store is often referred to as a 'dairy', as they are usually affiliated with a dairy company and will often display the company's name on the store's signboard.

Similar concepts

Convenience stores to some extent replaced the old-fashioned general store. They are similar but not identical to Australian milk bars. In Britain, corner shops in towns and village shops in the countryside served similar purposes and were the precursors to the modern European convenience store (e.g. SPAR). In the Canadianmarker province of Quebecmarker, dépanneurs (often referred to as "deps" in English) are often family-owned neighbourhood shops that serve similar purposes.Truck stops, also known as "travel centers" combine a shop offering similar goods to a convenience store with amenities for professional drivers of Semi-trailer trucks. This may include fast food restaurants, showers and facilities for buying large quantities of diesel fuel. The equivalent in Europe is the motorway service station.

Neighborhood grocery stores not big enough to be considered a supermarket often compete with convenience stores. For example, in Los Angeles, CA, a local chain operates neighborhood grocery stores that fill a niche between a traditional supermarket and convenience store. Because they stock fresh fruit and fresh meat and carry upwards of 5000 items, they have a lot in common with the supermarket. Due to the relatively small store size, customers can get in and out conveniently, or have purchases delivered.

See also


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