Hit by contraband tobacco and credit card fees - A year of downsizing and
resilience for Canadian convenience stores in 2009

LAVAL, QC, April 6 /CNW Telbec/ - The most omnipresent industry in Canada is possibly also the most resilient, if we go by figures presented in the 2010 Annual Report on the convenience store industry prepared by HEC Montreal on behalf of the Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA) and presented today before 350 Canadian retailers, distributors and manufacturers meeting in Laval for the occasion. With sales apart from gasoline up 0.6% despite the economic recession, endemic contraband tobacco and excessive credit card transaction fees, convenience store owners have demonstrated a remarkable capacity for adaptation, but at the price of major downsizing. In fact, 10% of convenience stores -- 2,300 -- closed their doors last year, two-thirds of them in Quebec and Ontario, the provinces most affected by contraband tobacco. This means that over the year, six convenience stores disappeared every day, a real haemorrhage that calls out to governments to reconsider and reorient their interventions.

"Whether it's endemic contraband tobacco or excessive credit card fees, we see poor government intervention. Either they are not enforcing their own laws or worse, they are ignoring situations that make no sense," says CCSA Senior Vice-President Michel Gadbois, "If we want to retain the local family business model, an essential community service and key contributor to community life, governments must do more -- and better -- to safeguard the business environment for convenience stores," he stressed.

Every day, 10.3 million Canadians -- one in three -- stop visiting a convenience store. The little corner store, so handy and friendly, hardly suggests the omnipresence of the retail industry in Canada and its powerful contribution to the economic vitality of the country: $31.9 billion in sales, $2 billion in salaries, and 165,000 jobs, as well as $11.5 billion in taxes contributed to governments, an enormous sum that benefits all Canadian communities.

Faced with these challenges, the CCSA calls on industry unity to make the voice of convenience store owners heard even more forcefully, from one end of the country to the other. "In each federal riding there are, on average, 70 convenience stores. So we constitute a considerable political force. If we mobilize, the federal and provincial governments will have no choice but to listen to us and act to protect the unique institution that is the convenience store," Mr. Gadbois concluded. The report is available on demand.

About the CCSA

A strong voice for Canadian convenience stores, the CCSA represents the largest chains along with local brands and independent owners. Its mission is to improve the business environment for convenience stores and foster responsible industry practices. In particular, it promotes the age verification programme We Expect, which includes training, certification, control and communication of factors that affect the prevention of the sale of prohibited products to minors.

SOURCE Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)

For further information: For further information: Guy Leroux, CCSA, Cell: (866) 511-2481, gleroux@acda-aqda.ca

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Canadian Convenience Stores Association (CCSA)

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Association québécoise des dépanneurs en alimentation (AQDA)

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