adplus-dvertising
Connect with us

Tech

America's new favorite restaurants are Wawa, Sheetz and 7-Eleven – CNN

Published

 on


But the convenience stores and gas stations that dot America’s retail landscape have worked to improve their dinners-to-go and coffee. Today, chains like Sheetz, Wawa and Kwik Trip offer meal kits, salads, keto snacks, Kombucha and espressos.
That overhaul is driving convenience stores’ rise, unexpected survivors in an industry suffering mass store closings and shoppers shifting online. While delivery from Amazon (AMZN) has redefined what convenience means for many Americans, the 24-hour, 3,230-average-square-foot convenience store still fills a niche for time-strapped customers searching for a bite to eat and a fill up at the pump.
“It has absolutely been a hidden gem,” said Jeff Williams, senior vice president of retail services at Nielsen. “They are demanding that consumers view them as a destination for food.”
Convenience stores have reinvented their businesses to adjust to the changing ways Americans eat. Snacking is becoming consumers’ preferred meal of choice, and Americans are cooking fewer of their dinners at home as they eat out or order in from their couch.
Casey's, based in Iowa, has grown to become America's fifth largest pizza chain.
To keep up, chains are hiring executives from restaurants and expanding their snack choices and prepared food in kitchens on site.
Consumers, especially Millennials, are not always willing to go to a quick-service restaurant, a fast-food joint or walk around a 40,000-square-foot grocery store, analysts say. Instead, they’ll often head to a convenience store, where the average amount of time customers spend inside the store is less than four minutes.
“People simply don’t have the time to sit down a whole meal at night like they used to,” said Carl Rick, leadership development specialist at Kwik Trip, which is building around 40 stores a year and just opened its 700th. “The more places there are where people can duck in, be out in three minutes with milk, eggs, maybe a sandwich, something to drink—those places are doing very well.”

The growth of convenience

Quirky chains like Wawa and Sheetz in the northeast, Casey’s and Kwik Trip in the midwest, Buc-ee’s from Texas, Maverik based in Utah and others are opening new stores and building devoted customer followings. (A couple recently tied the knot at Wawa and one Sheetz superfan — Sheetz Freakz as they’re known — got a tattoo of the company’s logo.)
Over the past decade, convenience chains have increased sales inside their stores by around 30%, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores, an industry advocacy group. Since 2000, the number of convenience stores in the United States has grown by 28%.
The Southland Ice Company opened America’s first convenience store in 1927 in Dallas. The chain, which is now 7-Eleven, recognized an opportunity to sell these staples on Sundays and in the evenings when grocery stores were closed.
Convenience stores in the United States took off in the postwar period with the growth of car ownership, the creation of the interstate highway system and migration to the suburbs.
“These new vest-pocket supermarkets, most of them chain-operated, specialize in quick service, easy parking and long hours,” a New York Times reporter wrote in 1966 about how convenience stores were starting to fill a roll “for the housewife.”
In 1965, there were 5,000 convenience stores in the United States. Today, there are upward of 153,000 of these mini-marts, more than all the grocery stores, drug stores and dollar stores in this country combined. 7-Eleven is the largest US convenience store chain with more than 9,000 outposts.
Around 93% of Americans live within 10 minutes of a convenience store, a highly-fragmented sector where regional chains and mom-and-pops dominate. Close to 80% of convenience stores have a gas station attached.
For years, convenience chains relied on tobacco, soft drinks and fuel to draw in customers, a business model often known as “Cokes, smokes and gas.” But Americans today are smoking less and steadily cutting out soda.
An undated photo of 7-Eleven. The first convenience store in America opened in 1927. Today, there are around 153,000 in the United States.An undated photo of 7-Eleven. The first convenience store in America opened in 1927. Today, there are around 153,000 in the United States.
And increased regulations on tobacco and the decline of sugary drinks will continue to chip away at the areas convenience stores have long relied on to grow. This has forced convenience stores to adapt.
“When we look at what’s going to make us competitive in the future, it’s what’s going on inside the store,” said Rick from Kwik Trip.

Sheetz subs and Casey’s pizza

Top chains see an opening to cater to customers hunting for breakfast, a quick snack or a prepared meal for dinner. From 2009 to 2018, food service sales in convenience stores grew at a higher rate than any other area in the store, according to the industry trade group.
Spending on food away from home surpassed spending on food at Americans’ home for the first time in 2010, according to the Department of Agriculture.
“Fewer people are making those big grocery trips and more and more people are buying individual meals,” said Rick. “We’re looking to capitalize on that.” Kwik Trip sells eggs, milk, burgers and produce and has been expanding its selection of take-home dinners and fried chicken, which it preps at kitchens in Wisconsin.
These food trends are pronounced among Millennials, who eat out more often and visit the grocery stores less frequently than their parents, according to the agency.
“Millennials exhibit a higher preference for convenience” when it comes to buying food, a 2017 USDA study found.
“Our bullseye is kind of that younger age group — the late teens to the early thirties for food and beverage,” said Travis Sheetz, chief operating officer at Sheetz, a family-owned chain that has more than 600 stores on the East Coast and topped $7 billion in sales last year. “They tend to be much more accepting of eating at a gas station.”
Sheetz offers made-to-order sandwiches and salads and has espresso bars. Everything is done on touch screens, which it introduced in the 1990s.
The chain tries to separate its offering from McDonald’s, which it calls its biggest competitor, by offering more customizable sandwiches and a wider variety of choices.
“We’ve always had breakfast at night,” he said. “McDonald’s did that recently.”
Wawa, which has more than 800 convenience stores along the East Coast and is known for its hoagies, has added custom salads, artisan sandwiches and organic coffee in recent years. Casey, based in Iowa, has grown to become the country’s fifth biggest pizza chain. Its website looks more like Domino’s (DPZ) than a gas station.
Groceries and glutes: Supermarkets add boutique gyms and yoga classesGroceries and glutes: Supermarkets add boutique gyms and yoga classes
“This isn’t what a lot of people would characterize as gas station food,” said Darren Rebelez, chief executive officer at Casey’s General Stores, which has grown to become the country’s fifth biggest pizza chain.
7-Eleven is attempting to transform its food and drinks, too. It has launched private-label meal kits and tested keto and paleo snacks at 125 Los Angeles stores. At a 7-Eleven lab store in Dallas, it has a growler bar stocked with local craft beers and a bar with frozen yogurt and ice cream. There is also a patio and inside dining areas.
The chain recently debuted Voyager Point, its own line of wine priced under $12.

Competition bearing down

But convenience stores are not the only areas of retail that recognize shifting consumer habits and demand for small-size stores.
Retailers and grocery stores have introduced copycat convenience-type models with food, and restaurants have sharpened their focus on breakfast and snacks. These strategies by competitors threaten to lure customers away from convenience stores.
At Sheetz, customers place their orders on touch screens.At Sheetz, customers place their orders on touch screens.
A better cup at coffee at McDonald’s, for example, could take away trips to convenience stores during the morning, which these companies depend on.
“Other retail channels also are trying to steal our thunder,” said Steve Holtz, who covers the convenience store industry for CSP Magazine.
Dollar General (DG) is building smaller versions of its stores, called DGX, while Kroger (KR) has partnered with Walgreens to test “Kroger Express” mini-sections inside some Walgreens (WBA) locations.
“This ability to get in and out really quickly is certainly something that is resonating,” Kroger CFO Gary Millerchip told analysts last year.
Other grocers such as Hy-Vee, Giant and Whole Foods are testing out new convenience-style formats, as well as adding food halls and prepared meals to stores for customers to grab on the go.
In the future, “major grocery players will employ more small-format, convenience-oriented concepts,” real estate firm CBRE said in a research report.
How Wegmans and H-E-B survived Amazon's onslaught How Wegmans and H-E-B survived Amazon's onslaught
In addition, fast-food and quick-service chains like McDonald’s and Dunkin’ (DNKN) have been focused on improving their breakfast offerings and coffee. Customer visits for breakfast, coffee and snacks are parts of the day “that we didn’t have our fair share” McDonald’s (MCD) CFO Kevin Ozan said on a call with analysts last year. These areas are “further growth opportunities” for McDonald’s.
Meanwhile, online competitors threaten to disrupt traditional convenience stores.
Amazon reportedly has its eye on opening up to 3,000 small, cashier-less Go stores by 2021. And startups such as GoPuff and Cargo are taking advantage of the gig economy by offering snacks in ride-sharing apps like Uber. GoPuff, a “convenience store delivery app” that has expanded rapidly in dozens of cities, offers $1.95 delivery on more than 2,000 items from its own fulfillment centers.
But some convenience store executives say they are unfazed by Amazon and online entrants.
More than half of Casey’s stores are in towns with fewer than 5,000 people. And CEO Darren Rebelez believes Amazon will have a difficult time reaching those rural customers.
“I don’t think that [Amazon Go] is something that’s likely to show up in our footprint anytime soon,” he said. “It’s tough to really disrupt this industry in a meaningful way.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

You can now use Siri with ChatGPT on iPhones – Yahoo Canada Sports

Published

 on


“Hey Siri, ask ChatGPT…” (Apple)

A handy little update to the official ChatGPT app means you can now use Apple’s Siri to talk to the chatbot.

The useful trick works through an Apple feature called Shortcuts that lets you automate tasks on your iPhone.

Once set up, you can basically ask Siri to fetch answers from ChatGPT. It’s kind of like rewiring Siri’s brain to make the otherwise limited digital assistant a lot smarter. Until Apple gives the voice bot an AI language upgrade, this is the next best thing.

300x250x1

OpenAI launched the free ChatGPT iPhone app in the US last month, and quickly brought it to the UK. Although the app already offers a voice input feature that relies on its Whisper speech-recognition system, linking it to Siri means you can also use it on other Apple devices like a HomePod smart speaker.

Setting up the new feature is a breeze – here’s what you need to do.

How to get Siri to work with ChatGPT

First, make sure to update the OpenAI ChatGPT app on your iPhone.

Now, head to the Shortcuts app, which is available on any iPhone running iOS 12 or later.

Here, you can click the plus icon in the top-right corner and search for ChatGPT to set up the default Shortcut.

However, if you want to customise it, then you should click on the Shortcuts button in the top-left corner, and you should see ChatGPT under “App Shortcuts.”

Now, select “Add to shortcut” and tweak it how you want. For instance, you can set it to react to a specific command, such as “Hey Siri, Ask AI” instead of the standard prompt “Hey Siri, Ask ChatGPT”.

Watch out for ChatGPT clones

Within three weeks of its launch, the OpenAI ChatGPT app was downloaded 5 million times, according to data.ai.

The bot landed in an App Store full of clones and duplicates with similar-sounding names, some of which were using shady tactics to charge users for their services.

Thankfully, you can usually spot these dubious “fleeceware” apps by their low review scores. Google and Apple also removed some of the worst rip-offs after they were contacted by cybersecurity researchers.

Adblock test (Why?)

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

Assassin’s Creed Mirage Gameplay Highlights Stealth And Classic Elements

Published

 on

Assassin’s Creed Mirage finally showed the much-anticipated return of classic elements from the franchise during the PlayStation Showcase. This trailer highlighted various elements, encouraging fans to anticipate future gameplay from Ubisoft.

A developer diary from the studio has now been released, highlighting classic elements featured in the Assassin’s Creed title. This includes stealth, assassinations, and parkour mechanics.

Why it matters: Many fans have been waiting for a classic Assassin’s Creed experience since the RPG trilogy. Mirage promises a return to the basic formula, focusing on the core Assassin’s Creed experience.

The developer diary explains Ubisoft’s thought process and focuses when returning to the classic formula.

300x250x1

Assassin’s Creed Mirage brings parkour mechanics like elevators, vaulting, and a dense map that encourages creative movement. Basim is more agile than recent Assassins, making parkour more fluid than before. Ubisoft also introduces new mechanics like the pole vault.

For fans of stealth, elements like social stealth will be making a comeback. Additionally, players can utilize bench assassinations, and Ubisoft has added more animations for stealth kills. This should ensure players are encouraged to pick the stealthy approach as they play through the upcoming release.

The game promotes freedom in story missions, allowing players to approach assassinations at their own pace. Assassin’s Creed Mirage also features bureaus that act as mission hubs, allowing players to take up side quests like assassinations and rescue missions.

Latest Updates

Assassin’s Creed Mirage is set to launch on October 12. Ubisoft has previously stated that the game was inspired by fan demand for a classic Assassin’s Creed experience, and the first developer diary shows just a few ways, in which Ubisoft is looking to bring the old formula to life.

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Tech

9 Final Fantasy VII Rebirth Trailer Deets That Have Fans Stoked

Published

 on

 

One interpretation of the beginning footage in the trailer is that it’s showing the events in an alternate timeline. Cloud is missing from the group of Avalanche members’ bodies recovered by Shinra, seemingly after their attempt to break out of the headquarters or potentially during a routine reactor bombing mission. The fact that the spikey-haired hero is missing has some fans wondering if the footage is a brief look at a Final Fantasy VII timeline where he never made it to Midgar, or perhaps one where he joins Sephiroth instead of fighting him at the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake.

A screenshot shows a destroyed city in flames.

 

Another theory is that the footage is made-up altogether. We don’t actually see direct shots of the Avalanche members’ bodies. Instead it’s through the eyes of Shinra TV, an organization with a clear and documented history of fake news and propaganda. It’s possible the footage is just showing how Shinra will eventually try to cover up the team’s headquarters rampage and ensuing car chase to keep the residents of Midgar calm and in the dark.

A screenshot shows Cloud walking toward a Chocobo.

 

The trailer gives us our first look at a Chocobo out in the wild at the farm where players were eventually able to breed them in the original game. It’s unclear if that mechanic will be saved for the final game in the remake trilogy, or if players will get the chance to breed a Gold Chocobo in Rebirth and even take it to race it at the Gold Saucer. I can only imagine how many hours I’ll be spending on the Chocobo tracks if that’s the case.

A screenshot shows Elena in Rebirth.

 

The Turks are on the chase again and Elena is their newest member. The reckless recruit is as much of a punk as ever in the new trailer. She has a crush on Tseng, the leader of the Turks, and her antics with Rude and the rest will no doubt spawn an endless number of memes. Her cameo in the trailer is already leading to a ton of fan art.

300x250x1
A screenshot shows the new, improved version of Bugenhagen.

 

Ho Ho Hooo! Bugenhagen has made the jump to PS5 as well and the Cosmo Canyon elder looks glorious. Red XIII’s surrogate grandfather can be heard explaining how the planet relies on the Lifestream to exist, and he still doesn’t have legs and floats around instead. One of the game’s most beloved and strange-looking characters in his original 32-bit form, the glow up is real and players are loving it.

A screenshot shows the large Highwind airship in the distance.

 

The Shinra airship doesn’t get a moment to shine in the trailer, but it can be seen in the background of the initial shot of the seaside military base Juno. It might end up that only in the trilogy’s final game will players get to step inside and take the reins over for themselves, but in the meantime the Highwind is already getting fans excited for when that moment comes.

A screenshot shows Tifa and Sephiroth fighting.

 

“I saw you lying there. I figured it was too late,” Cloud said in the first Rebirth trailer. “Wait, what are you implying? That I died? That I’m some kind of imposter?” responded Tifa. In the new trailer Sephiroth says, “You know that I killed her, so who is she?” This has fans wondering if the Tifa we know from Remake is actually a clone, or a version of Jenova, Sephiroth’s mutant alien half-mom. It’s possible that the developers are just building intrigue by how the dialogue is framed, or maybe it’s laying the groundwork for a radically different outcome to the rest of Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s story.

A screenshot shows Aerith from the new trailer.

 

This all culminates in what would be the weirdest twist of all: Aerith not dying in the remake trilogy. The dream of saving Final Fantasy VII’s iconic flower girl is as old as the game itself, with urban legends that an option to stop Sephiroth from killing her or bring her back to life were hidden inside the game or cut at the last minute. If Tifa, or at least the original version of her, was killed at some point, maybe it implies that Aerith will live instead, or that Cloud will have the option to choose between different timelines where one set of tragic events is replaced with another. Or maybe this is all just the same type of wishful thinking Final Fantasy VII fans have been using to cope since the game came out. We’ll see what answers Rebirth provides when it arrives early next year. For now it’s fun to believe anything’s possible.


Kotaku is covering everything Summer Game Fest, from the main show on Thursday to other events happening throughout the next week. Whether you’re into larger-than-life triple-A games or intimate, offbeat indies, you can keep up with all things SGF here.

 

728x90x4

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending