Fewer frontline workers
Employment in the industry hasn’t fared much better. In fact, it mirrors the national reduction in store closures since 2016—17.5%.
Newfoundland & Labrador saw the biggest decrease in employment at 9% in 2022, with New Brunswick recording a 7% reduction. Nova Scotia, Alberta and Ontario saw their in-store workforces shrink by 5%. Saskatchewan, Quebec and Manitoba had the least employee turnover, at 3%.
Again, the pandemic hit the c-store industry hard, with the majority (11%) of the (17.5%) employee reductions occurring between 2020 and 2022. Once again, Newfoundland & Labrador led the way with a 17% decrease. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec followed suit, posting decreases between 12-13%.
The data shows that our industry is weathering change as it grapples with the new retail reality post pandemic. Will these trends continue, or will the declines start to stabilize? Time will tell.
CICC will continue its focus on key advocacy issues that have a direct impact on c-stores ability to survive and thrive. These are: contraband tobacco, credit card fees and expanding the product mix with beverage alcohol. We will also continue to focus on the need for smart regulation and red tape reduction, as well as food and beverage and recycling regulations that impact the entire supply chain.
Tobacco is a $3.9 billion industry which accounts for 7% of total c-store sales and 45% of in-store sales.
Yet, according to our most recent State of the Industry Report, the largest in-store category in the convenience channel saw a drop of almost 10% in 2022 and 14% since 2021. For any retailer, that’s a huge hurdle to overcome.
This fall we released a report we did in conjunction with Ernst & Young Canada that calculated the market share of contraband tobacco to be as much as 50% in three hotspot provinces – BC, Ontario and NFLD & Labrador.
Those are astonishing numbers costing provincial as well as the federal government billions of dollars in lost tax revenue every year.
Provincial governments are increasingly listening as they see the linkages to public safety and organized crime. Just last week we had a very positive meeting with Minister Dale Nally who is responsible for the AGLC which includes the sale and regulation of alcohol and tobacco. The Minister is highly engaged. In Ontario, we continue to have meetings with Ministers and senior political staff and there is an acknowledgement that the status quo is untenable. In Atlantic Canada, we have plans to host a contraband Summit that will bring together government, law enforcement, retailers and other stakeholders to focus on jointly developing tangible solutions.