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Should I Ever Shop at a Convenience Store?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
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  • Last Modified Date: 26 August 2016
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A convenience store is just what the name suggests. This is the type of store you shop at for reasons of convenience only. Convenience stores have limited space for products and need to sell their goods at a premium price. To make the most of your finances, you should avoid shopping at a convenience store for the most part.

If you can buy your favorite magazine for the same price at the convenience store which you can walk to as the supermarket that you need to drive to then you should shop for it at the convenience store. Yet you have to avoid buying impulse items while you're there or you will no longer be saving money. It is a matter of always thinking about where you’ll get the most for your money.

Of course, convenience stores are made for shopping for emergency items. Yet, many of these items are things you can buy ahead of time less expensively elsewhere. If you always keep them on hand, you can then avoid the emergency. For example, things like aspirin and feminine hygiene products are usually better bought in large sizes on sale in department or big box stores.

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Perishable items such as milk are a different story and there may be times that you may need to pay a high price for milk by buying it at a convenience store. If you find yourself doing this too often though, you should probably be buying a larger size of milk when you do your regular weekly supermarket shopping. Keeping powdered milk on hand that you can add water to for cooking may also help solve the problem of having to head out to the convenience store to buy milk.

Oftentimes, going to the convenience store can become a habit and buying impulse items each time can really take a bite out of your cash on hand or add to your debit card fees. If it is just a matter of getting out of the house for a walk, head in the other direction and avoid spending money just out of habit. You may find that the money you save by not shopping regularly at your convenience store can be enough for something more special such as a movie ticket or some fresh flowers.

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NathanG
Post 19

@MrMoody - Most convenience stores are tied to gas stations. However from what I’ve learned, they don’t really make money on the gas. Margins on gas are razor thin.

It’s in the convenience products that they make their money. That explains why the products are so expensive. The gasoline is just the bait. Once they lure you in, then the next you know, you need a cigarette, or a soft drink or a coffee – whatever. That’s just the way they operate and why you should never use them as your main source of grocery supplies.

MrMoody
Post 18

My car was overheating on a hot summer’s day once, and I was totally out of coolant. Smoke was pouring out of my engine. Fortunately I was able to go to a convenience store and get some coolant.

I had to walk a couple of blocks but I was able to get it. In times like that, I really don’t care about prices. It’s an emergency and I will pay whatever.

It's certainly not more expensive than a new engine. I have also found automotive oil in convenience stores too, usually in small quart bottles or larger. Again, when you’re in an emergency it’s the perfect pit stop.

andee
Post 17

I have found the convenience stores to have the best prices on fountain drinks. They also have a big selection to choose from.

My kids like to combine several different drinks together, and they can do that at a convenience store.

In the summer when it is really hot outside, I can stop in there and buy a huge drink that will last me for half the afternoon.

You can also choose how much ice you want in your drink. If I get a drink at a restaurant, they fill over half the cup with ice and you get very little drink and mostly ice.

KaBoom
Post 16

I think the author of this article is correct: convenience store design really promotes impulse purchasing. Last time I was in a convenience store I remember noticing that the store had the snack and candy items right next to the "emergency purchases" like tampons and deodorant.

If you went in for just deodorant, it would be so easy to leave with deodorant, plus some chips, plus some cookies and candy. And of course a large soda to go with all of that.

If it's possible, I think it would be worth spending a little bit extra on gas to just go do your shopping at a real grocery store.

SarahSon
Post 15

There is a Citgo convenience store a few blocks from my house. Any time I have gone in there to buy something, there are a lot of kids hanging around close by.

For younger kids that can't drive anywhere, this is the only place they can go to buy a snack. I know they have also had a lot of problems with items being stolen.

A lot of kids will stop in there before or after school, so there is always a lot of activity in and out the door.

The only time I go to a convenience store to buy anything is if I am desperate. If I am in the middle of fixing dinner and find out I just ran out of milk, it is faster to run to the convenience store than drive the 2 miles to the nearest grocery store.

SZapper
Post 14

@anamur - I've actually sort of experienced what you're talking about. It is true that a lot of cities don't have many grocery stores.

Just to compare, I live in the suburbs now and I have three major chain grocery stores within a 5 minute drive of my apartment. And a fourth is being built as we speak!

However, I used to live downtown in a major city, and my nearest real grocery store was a 15 minute drive away! I actually did have a very small convenience store type grocery store near my apartment though.

The store carried a lot more stuff than your average Citgo convenience store, but the prices were exorbitant and the products were always in smaller containers than regular grocery stores sell. What a racket!

LisaLou
Post 13

My husband stops at a convenience store at least twice a week. He puts a lot of miles on his truck and needs to fill up with gas more than once a week.

He also likes to drink a lot of soda pop, and always has a cooler with him in his truck. He has found buying cases of pop to be cheaper at the convenience store than anywhere else.

Because he usually wants a cold Pepsi, he will go inside and get one out of the refrigerated case. They also have them stacked up outside for easy access.

Depending on how hungry he is, he might get a snack too. He does save a lot of money buying the pop by the case instead of going inside and getting a fountain drink.

animegal
Post 12

@drtroubles - My brother works at a convenience store and you can't really blame the convenience store distributors for all the pricing. I know the head office where my brother works sets the pricing and it is so expensive because people will pay just about anything when they have a craving for chips at three in the morning.

I think that as long as you are shopping at convenience stores you are indeed going to be ripped off. Though there are cases where things are really cheap, especially in the summer. I know my brother's store has an amazing sale on ice cream then just to get people in the doors.

drtroubles
Post 11

I have a bad habit of not shopping ahead for a lot of things due to my late night shifts and I usually end up grabbing convenience store supplies to tide me over. It really is shocking though how much more expensive things like bread and milk are there when compared to more conventional grocery stores.

I think that convenience store suppliers must either make a small fortune from the sales or the store owners do. I picked up a bag of chips the other day and it cost double what it does at a big box store. I suppose that is my fault for not driving out to one of the 24-hour big box stores, but still it's a ripoff in my opinion.

nextcorrea
Post 10

I always buy my morning coffee at a convenience store. It is much cheaper than getting it from one of the fancy coffee shops and the quality is almost the same.

You can even get hot chocolate, cappuccino and tea if you desire. It just makes sense to go here instead of fighting the lines at a starbucks.

backdraft
Post 9

In the last year or two a lot of convenience stores have begun selling fresh items like sandwiches and salads. These are much much better than the prepackaged sandwiches they used to sell.

On top of this many convenience stores sell a lot of hot foods that are easy to eat like hot dogs and taquitos. I have to confess that I get my lunch from a convenience store probably twice a week and I work in a place where there are tons of restaurants.

It is cheap and the quality is surprisingly good. I can't claim that they are the healthiest lunches, but when you are in a pinch it works. Its better than McDonalds right?

orangey03
Post 8

I live twenty miles from the nearest grocery store, so sometimes I have to buy emergency products from the convenience store down the road from my house. I don't make a habit of it, but this store has gotten me out of a bind on a couple of occasions.

When you are out of tampons and your period strikes, you can't exactly drive twenty miles to go get some. This is the main thing that I have to buy at that store, because I often forget to buy them ahead of time.

Also, I have had relatives pop in for a surprise visit before, and I didn't have enough basic ingredients to make them dinner. So, the store helped me out then, too. I couldn't just leave them at the house while I went to the grocery store, because that would take me forty minutes round trip, plus shopping time.

seag47
Post 7

I always try to get enough milk and bread to last me for a week when I'm at the grocery store. The convenience store milk is pricier, and it doesn't taste as good as the brand I usually get.

The only reason I buy anything from inside a convenience store is if it is something my grocery store doesn't carry. There are a couple of types of candy bars that I can only find in a convenience store.

My grocery store used to have just about every type of candy bar, but in the past few years, they have begun stocking the shelves next to the checkout stand with just a few types, and they never switch them out. At a convenience store, they have two entire rows dedicated to candy, and I can always find what I need.

cloudel
Post 6

@shell4life – Another good thing about convenience store travel centers is that they usually have large, clean restrooms. I stopped in a couple on my way across the country, and they even had showers. You had to take a number, and they would call out your number when a shower stall was available.

However, most regular convenience store bathrooms are dirty and scary. The bigger the store, the better the chance that they will have a clean restroom.

I get sucked into buying snacks and drinks from convenience stores whenever I stop to go to the bathroom. Even though I have snacks in my car already, I just get so tempted by the things I see on the way to the restroom. Those frozen slushie drinks always get me in the end.

shell4life
Post 5

Some convenience stores double as travel centers. These large stores carry snacks and basic essentials, but they also sell t-shirts, caps, keychains, music, and movies. A store like this can be a good place to buy a souvenir of your road trip.

Also, big travel centers usually have one or two fast food chains inside of them. It is super convenient to be able to stop for gas, a restroom break, souvenirs, and a meal all in one place.

When my husband and I travel, we often eat at convenience store restaurants. It is just quicker and cheaper than stopping at a nice restaurant, so we really end up saving money.

serenesurface
Post 4

@feruze-- In some areas of large cities, convenience stores are all people have.

We discussed this recently in my class. My instructor showed us a map of Washington DC's outlaying areas and the number of grocery stores there. There were only a few and very far out from one another!

Apparently, many grocery store chains don't want to open up stores in poor neighborhoods because they feel that they won't do enough business. There could also be a fear of crime if the crime rate is high. Convenience store franchises don't mind since they tend to sell cheaper products and it costs less to open a store for them. So people in such areas have no choice but

to shop from convenience stores.

In fact, it is said that this is one of the primary reasons why many poor in cities suffer from obesity. Because just like @ysmina said, convenience stores don't sell any fruits or vegetables. So people end up getting all boxed and processed foods which are high in sugar and salt.

A convenience store is meant to be a 'store of convenience' just like the name. It's not supposed to be the primary source of food which it unfortunately has become for the many poor in America.

ysmina
Post 3

@tssawhney-- As far as I know, a convenience store and a departmental store will both carry non-food items in them but they're very different otherwise. A departmental store is much larger and will carry anything from clothes to furniture. The stores in the mall, for example, like Sears, Macy's and JcPenny, are all departmental stores.

A convenience store is tiny, will only carry small items both food and non-food. Convenience stores supply only one or two brands for a product at most. Plus, convenience stores can't be found in malls or strip malls. They're usually found as single small buildings or stores on the road or streets.

A super-market is larger and carries groceries which also includes both food and non food items. A super-market will always have fresh foods though. Convenience stores rarely provide any fresh food, maybe some fruit at the most.

bear78
Post 2

Convenience stores are really important when you're on the go or if you're driving out of town. I always stop at convenience stores when I'm driving to my parents house to get coffee, snacks and any other emergency items like pain relievers.

Why would I go out of my way and leave the highway or main road and visit a supermarket in this situation? It's much easier to stop at a convenience store which are also gas stations most of the time. It saves time and convenience store products like coffee and snacks tend to cost the same everywhere.

I wouldn't go to a convenience store to get bread or milk though. It does cost more for these kind of essentials and there are too few options. I might get ice or soda, but that's it.

tssawhney
Post 1

What is the difference between the following :

- Convenience store - departmental store

- super market - specialty store

- hyper mall - shopping mall

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