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College Students a Growing Customer Base for Convenience Stores, Reports NPD

The spending ability of this emerging demographic continues to evolve.

For foodservice operators in the convenience store segments, college students represent an emerging opportunity to enhance their businesses. That's because student c-store usage has grown across virtually all spending components and product dollars grew 15 percent over a year ago, according to the NPD report, Making the Grade: Student Consumer Impact on the Retail Fuels and Convenience Marketplace.

The report also finds that 31.9 percent of college students' c-store purchases are an impulse buy, compared to 22.7 percent of other c-store shoppers' purchases. "Students with money to spend represent a growing population — and a significant opportunity — worth convenience store marketers' attention," says David Portalatin, NPD's director of industry analysis. "Opportunities exist for c-store retailers to tap into student impulse purchasing through strategic product placement, bundling, loyalty programs, and dealing to increase student purchasing."

College students, ages 18-24, made 351.4 million visits to convenience stores and spent approximately $5.2 billion on c-store products in the 12 months ending June 2012, according to The NPD Group. With the population of full- and part-time college students currently at 19 million, college students discretionary spending reached $76 billion last year, up $2 billion from the year before.