The pandemic put a lot of convenience store construction and renovation projects on hold. The good news is that activity is picking up. It’s ‘game-on’. But what design trends have changed, and which are still running strong? Let’s take a look.
By Devin Mahaffey, A.T., president, CTM Design
Trend 1: U.S. trends slow to take hold in Canada
Typically, Canada lags behind the United States when it comes to innovation. Dedicated pickup windows & cashiers for app-based pickup orders and self-checkout kiosks are among the U.S. trends we’ve heard a lot about… but haven’t seen widely adopted in Canada. At least not yet. Maybe you’ll lead the way!
Trend 2: Higher-end finishes that add to the customer experience
C-store owners continue to invest in higher-quality finishes and millwork to set their stores apart and meet consumer demand for elevated in-store experiences.
Laminate countertops are being replaced by materials like quartz, corian and designer veneers. Floor tiles that are indistinguishable from wood or stone provide an inviting natural look while ensuring greater durability. Colourful powder-coated metal cabinets and aluminum composite materials have become a top choice for creating a sleek, modern look.
Trend 3: Decaling for unique interior and exterior designs
Vinyl wall, floor and window decals have become increasingly popular in c-store design. No wonder. It is an easy, cost-efficient way to revitalize a store with fun or sophisticated graphics. When it’s time for a refresh, the graphic can simply be peeled off.
Trend 4: Touchless washrooms are now the norm
Even before the pandemic, c-store owners (especially on highway routes) were updating washroom facilities to include high-quality finishes that create a cleaner more inviting environment. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the switch to touchless technology. Today, touchless taps, soap dispensers, and hand dryers have become the norm for new construction and renovation. Sinks that combine touchless taps, soap, and hand dryers all-in-one can simplify design, maximize space utilization and streamline costs.
Trend 5: Owners laying the groundwork for EV charging
Many c-stores are holding off on installing EV chargers until the demand is there. However, they are putting the required underground infrastructure in place today. It costs far less to install the necessary wiring when you’re doing your initial site work than to rip up pavement and sidewalks to upgrade at a later date. Design plans should also account for the future placement of charging stations, and the impact on traffic flow.
Additionally, c-stores are examining ways to occupy visitors (and increase sales) while vehicles are charging. This includes expanded hot food or café service with in-store seating.
And believe it or not, national brands are already looking at hydrogen fuelling infrastructure!
Go the extra mile
These trends reflect the evolving needs and expectations of today’s consumers. It might seem daunting, but by investing in your customer you are winning their business and earning their loyalty.
CTM Design is a full-service, integrated engineering, architectural, and design firm, specializing in convenience store renovation and construction.