2011 Canadian Convenience Stores Industry Report - Regulation Abuse & Poor Policies Choking Canada's Most Vital Economic Force

MONTREAL, April 26 /CNW Telbec/ - Squeezed by challenging economic conditions, one of the most significant industries in Canada is also hit by regulation abuse, poor policies and a lack of political leadership against never-ending issues such as contraband tobacco and excessive credit card transaction fees. These combined factors have had "a devastating effect" on the convenience stores industry's profitability, resulting in 350 store closures last year alone, according to the 2011 Annual Report on the convenience store industry. The report, prepared by HEC Montreal on behalf of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) was presented today before 350 Canadian retailers, distributors and manufacturers at a meeting in Montreal.

"Year after year, we come to the same conclusion: governments must wake up to its convenience stores industry. At the moment, we have the worst of both worlds: either they are not enforcing their own laws or they are simply ignoring situations that make no sense," says CCSA Senior Vice-President Michel Gadbois, 'If we want to retain the local family business model and maintain an essential channel to reach Canadian consumers, governments must do more -- and better -- to improve our business conditions," he stressed.

Every day, 10 million Canadians visit a convenience store. That is no surprise since 70 per cent of the population live within a 0.5 km radius of a convenience store. The little corner store, so handy and friendly, hardly suggests the significance of the retail industry in Canada and its powerful contribution to the economic vitality of the country: $33.8 billion in annual sales, $2.2 billion in annual wages, and 185,000 jobs, as well as contributing to governments up to $16 billion from taxation and sale of controlled products.  These are enormous sums which show the benefits the industry has to all Canadian communities.

In 2010, sales at convenience stores without gas stations were stable compared to 2009 (0.1 per cent), totalling $11.2 billion, while those with gas stations saw an increase of 9.2 per cent to $22.6 billion, with gasoline prices increasing by 9.7 per cent and volume by 10.1%. The industry's overall sales of $33.8 billion were up 5.9 per cent, with the strongest growth in Alberta, Québec and Ontario. Overall margins were only 1.6 per cent for convenience stores without gas stations and 0.9 per cent for those with gas stations.

Faced with these challenges, the CCSA calls upon the industry to unite and make the voice of convenience store owners heard even more forcefully across the country. "In each federal riding there are, on average, 70 convenience stores. There's no denying we constitute a considerable political force. If we mobilize, the Federal and Provincial governments will have no choice but to listen and act to protect the unique institution that is the convenience store," Mr. Gadbois concluded. The report is available on demand.

About the CCSA
The CCSA represents the economic interests of more than 25,000 convenience stores located in every community in Canada serving Canadians for all their daily needs. CCSA has developed a basic mission to promote corporate social responsibility and represent "Responsible Community Retailing" and has developed the world class We Expect ID age testing program for all employees in the network. CCSA works to promote and foster professional business practices, standards and ethics throughout the C-Store industry and provides training, education and guidance to its members.

SOURCE CANADIAN CONVENIENCE STORES ASSOCIATION (CCSA)

For further information:

Dianna Eakins, CCSA, Cell: 905.630.4208 / email:ccsaeakins@gmail.com

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CANADIAN CONVENIENCE STORES ASSOCIATION (CCSA)

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