Convenience stores are small-sized stores that offer a limited range of grocery and other items that people are likely to need or want as a matter of convenience. Most are located on busy street corners or in gas stations. Both travelers and locals use these stores.
Travelers stopping for gas or for washroom facilities often appreciate the convenience of having food, drinks, reading material and maps available without having to go to a supermarket. Convenience stores are usually open even when supermarkets are closed and usually allow for quicker shopping and service. To compensate for the convenience they offer, the prices are often higher at these stores than they are at supermarkets.
Locals are likely to go to a convenience store when their regular supermarket is closed and they need to replace an item such as milk, toilet paper or bread that they run out of in the home. However, many locals also regularly buy lottery tickets, magazines and candy from these stores. Students often buy cold drinks and snack foods from convenience stores.
Many convenience stores have microwaves for heating up prepared sandwiches, soups, and hot dogs they sell. Some also have coffee and breakfast sandwich specials for morning commuters. A newspaper is sometimes included in these offers. These stores often carry at least some ready-to-go bakery items such as muffins and doughnuts.
Convenience stores are often organized into a few short aisles of candy, chips, and toiletries in the center and glass cases of drinks and frozen foods against the side and back walls. Drink and coffee machines and prepared foods are often together in another area and there may or may not be a deli. The front counters may hold containers of candy and beef jerky. Magazines and newspapers may be available at the front counter and/or at a magazine rack in the store.
There are at least 75 different convenience store chains in North America, 15 in Europe and 30 in Asia. In many countries, they are often used regularly by residents for banking services and bill payments. Convenience stores, like fast food restaurants, are popular not only for the convenience, but also because they tend to focus on getting customers in and out quickly.