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Tentative deal could end Saskatoon Co-op strike

UnknownA ratification vote will be held this week on a tentative agreement to end a strike by hundreds of unionized Saskatoon Co-op workers that’s dragged on for more than five months.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1,400 says the deal covering about 900 employees was reached early Sunday morning.

It followed two days of mediated talks between the union and Saskatoon Co-operative on Friday and Saturday.

Union spokesman Rod Gillies says details won’t be made public until after the ballots are cast.

The tentative agreement also covers workers in Martensville, Warman, Colonsay and Watrous who are employed in retail food, gas bar, convenience store, agro centre, home centre and car wash operations.

The workers set up pickets Nov. 1 after rejecting a company offer that included lower wages for new employees.

Both sides had accused each other of not being flexible at the bargaining table and the union had asked for binding arbitration.

The employees have been without a contract for more than two years.


Industry reacts to proposed fines for Ontario gas stations not posting anti-carbon-tax stickers

Buried in Ontario’s budget bill are fines of up to $10,000 per day for gas station operators who don’t display government-mandated stickers about the price of the carbon tax.

gas-stickerThe budget contains a new piece of legislation called the Federal Carbon Tax Transparency Act that would require gas stations to display the sticker on each pump. The sticker shows the federal carbon tax adding 4.4 cents per litre to the price of gas now, rising to 11 cents a litre in 2022.

The legislation lets the government send inspectors to see if gas stations are properly displaying the stickers and sets out penalties for non-compliance.

Individuals could be fined up to $500 each day, or up to $1,000 a day for subsequent offences. Corporations could be fined up to $5,000 a day, or up to $10,000 a day for subsequent offences.

Obstructing an inspector would carry a fine of at least $500 and up to $10,000.

“This is a new low, even for (Premier) Doug Ford,” NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said in a statement. “It’s bad enough that he’s wasting public money on partisan promotion, but now he’s threatening private business owners with massive fines for failing to post [Progressive] Conservative Party advertisement.”

Similar critiques came from federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who denounced the fines as “ridiculous.”

“Not only is this a violation of freedom of speech, it will cost small business owners across the province who don’t want to take part in this government propaganda campaign,” McKenna said in a statement.

“This should be denounced by all political parties as a new low for our political discourse.”

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said Ford is wasting tax dollars and abusing legal tools to bolster his anti-carbon tax campaign.

“This has nothing to do with transparency and everything to do with helping his federal cousins win the election,” Schreiner said in a statement.

‘We cannot accept this carbon tax’

The provincial Tories are slamming the federal carbon tax at every turn, and while Ford has said he is staying out of the upcoming federal election, he directly linked the two Friday in a speech to the Ontario General Contractors Association.

“When you go to the ballot box think of your future,” he said. “Think of the country’s future. Think of your children’s future, because we cannot accept this carbon tax.”

In response, the Ontario Convenience Stores Association said on Twitter: “Independent family run gas stations are more then happy to install the carbon tax sticker on all our pumps supporting Ford Nation in educating customers of the carbon tax download on all Ontarians. Let us know how to help?”

Energy Minister Greg Rickford’s director of communications said the stickers are about transparency.

But critics note that the stickers don’t mention carbon tax rebates.

The carbon tax is expected cost to a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022.
With files from Michelle Warren. 

Curb appeal and promotions drive fuel-only customers inside a C-store: Study

The majority of fuel sold in North America is sold at convenience stores. However, getting motorists to come inside the store after filling up has been an ongoing challenge for the convenience channel.

Citing State of the Industry data from NACS, the US-based association for convenience and fuel retailing, GasBuddy noted that a convenience store’s inside sales generate almost three-quarters of all gross profit dollars. Yet, some estimate that a similar number of consumers fill up and drive away — never coming inside to make additional purchases.

Forecourt_Lg_032619Converting those forecourt customers to inside customers is not impossible. In a new study, Canopy to the Store, GasBuddy found that conversion depends on a c-store operator’s ability to meet consumer needs of safety, cleanliness and hospitality. Additionally, consumers show “a strong interest” in specific strategies and promos that can move them from the pumps to the store.

First impressions count: Think curb appeal

GasBuddy released a report summarizing the findings from its surveys conducted in July 2018 and December 2018. Chief among its findings: Curb appeal matters.

Calling the forecourt “the first handshake that welcomes customers to the store,” GasBuddy explained that consumers are unlikely to go inside a store if they perceive it as dirty, boring or unexceptional. Reputation matters as well.

Frequent customers cite the following factors as having a strong or moderate influence in their opinion of a store before stepping inside:

  • Store design and upkeep (82.54 percent)
  • Cleanliness of the fuel area (79.7 percent)
  • Quality of lighting (79.6 percent)
  • Brand reputation (58.6 percent)
  • Opinions of friends and family (55.12 percent)

Moving inside, GasBuddy found that restrooms matter. According to the survey results, 22.6 percent of consumers said they frequently make a purchase after using the restrooms at a c-store. Another 56 percent said they occasionally make a purchase.

However, the restrooms must be clean. Nearly two-thirds of consumers said they have visited a gas station’s c-store with the intention of using the restroom, but decided to leave and go elsewhere.

Top reasons for avoiding a c-store’s restroom are:

  • Restrooms were dirty;
  • Restrooms were outdated and/or poorly maintained;
  • C-store was outdated and/or poorly maintained;
  • Restroom required a key or an access code; and
  • Customer did not feel safe.

GasBuddy’s report also revealed that knowing that a convenience retailer was committed to clean, quality restrooms would probably influence nearly 42 percent of consumers and definitely influence 27.19 percent.

“Every restroom visit is a sales opportunity. It’s a chance to connect with fuel-only customers who would otherwise rarely — or never — wander inside the store. Unfortunately, retailers who provide outdated, dirty, or poorly maintained facilities are not equipped to leverage this opportunity,” GasBuddy stated, calling restrooms “a litmus test for overall store quality.”

Offers and promotions drive sales

Beyond the look and feel of a store, convenience store retailers need to reach fuel-only consumers where they are — on their phones. According to GasBuddy, more than half of consumers look at their smartphone while refueling and, more notably, nearly three our of four consumers aged 18 to 34.

“This opens many opportunities to drive in-store sales through relevant offers and promotions,” the report noted.

Fuel discounts can hit the spot. In a recent GasBuddy study, 65 percent of consumers said gas prices impact their ability to spend money on other items and services.

Relevant orders also deliver results. When asked which kinds of mobile ads influence their decision to visit a convenience store brand, consumers said:

  • Healthy food options;
  • Redeemable coupons for convenience store products;
  • Loyalty rewards for convenience store products; and
  • Loyalty rewards for fuel savings.

The Canopy to the Store report also found that nearly 71 percent of consumers surveyed belong to a rewards program for a c-store or gas station. Of those, 48.78 percent use a rewards program very frequently, 34.2 percent somewhat frequently, 12.84 percent somewhat rarely, and only 4.17 percent very rarely.

Minimal savings and discounts on products consumers don’t purchase are among the reasons why they rarely use a rewards program.

A c-store retailer can change consumers’ minds, however, if the program offers consumers the ability to: build up points to spend on what they choose; earn discounts on fuel for in-store purchases; and get discounts on products they purchase daily or weekly.

To download GasBuddy’s full Canopy to Store report, click here.

Originally published at Convenience Store News.


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