C-store in-store sales (merchandise and food service) are the fastest growing sector of the retail industry, with an annual growth rate of around 6 percent and with a dramatic 18 percent growth since 2010. C-store sales increased from $190 billion to $600 billion in that period. There are now 154,535 c-stores in the country, with Texas housing the most, at 15,671 units. A major contributor to the growth is an increase in fresh and healthier food offerings at c-stores—even Millennials are rolling in to catch a cheap, fresh meal on the fly. Fried foods and hot dogs are being replaced or supplemented with sandwiches, tacos, pizzas and other items made with fresh ingredients, sometimes prepared by hand on site. A recent c-store survey revealed that 76 percent of female and 68 percent of male customers were attracted by the fresh offerings.
While many mainstream retailers are panicking over how online sales are having a negative affect on in-store sales, some retailers seem to be safe from such anxiety attacks. National off-price retailers, lead by TJX Cos. (parent of TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods), Ross Stores and Burlington, account for