Convenience Store Charitable Giving Tops $1 Billion

Convenience Store Charitable Giving Tops $1 Billion

Convenience stores contribute or collect more than $1 billion to charities annually, according to a national survey of retailers released last week by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Overall, 95% of convenience stores support charitable causes, with 66% of these stores supporting five or more charitable causes. Nearly all companies support local charities (91%) such as church groups, shelters, food banks and other non-sports groups. And approximately half of all retailers (47%) also support national charities. Also, more than three in four retailers (76%) contribute to youth sports groups and more than two-thirds (69%) contribute to local schools via PTAs and other fundraising activities.

In addition, convenience stores also contribute to local charities during specific times of need. Four in five convenience store companies (75%) say they’ve made donations when there was a specific emergency or crisis in the community.

The median charitable contribution per store is $3,925 in direct contributions and $3,054 in donations collected. Cumulatively, the nearly 155,000 convenience stores in the United States contribute or collect $1.03 billion a year to benefit charitable groups.

“We often say in our industry that ‘c-store’ doesn’t just stand for convenience store; it stands for community store and these results clearly demonstrate the commitment our industry has to the communities they serve,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

Convenience retailers noted that their locations in communities also make them convenient places for groups to hold events: 61% allow their property to be used by local groups for fundraising events, whether car washes, cookie sales or direct fundraising.

More than three in four (76%) retailers also say they make local product/food donations to food banks and other groups to support those in need; of this group, 67% donate food and 76% donate beverages.

“Being a small, local chain, we like to keep our charitable giving to local organizations, where our customers know the people it is benefiting and can see their donations at work,” said Dennis McCartney with Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, PA).

A total of 90 NACS retail member companies participated in the association’s Q4 2018 Retailer Sentiment Survey that featured questions about charitable giving.

NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 165 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier member companies from more than 50 countries.

When cringeworthy gifts are worse than inconsiderate

When cringeworthy gifts are worse than inconsiderate

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Sometimes a gift that might seem reasonable is no nicer than a stocking full of coal.
Suzanne Tucker/

Ever wondered why your mom bought you that inexplicable thing? You’re not alone.

I have spent years doing consumer research related to gift giving. In my field, conventional wisdom surmises that when gifts fail to please recipients, it’s accidental. But I’ve determined that sometimes people give bad gifts on purpose.

My personal interest in this dynamic stems from a gag present my dad gave me when I was a kid. As I unwrapped his box in a box in a box, the anticipation grew bigger as the boxes got smaller. When I found that the last box was empty, it crushed me. He thought it was funny. (In my dad’s defense, this happened on April Fool’s Day, an occasion on which we had no gift-giving traditions.)

But I never could shake my urge to learn why someone would give such a rotten gift.

It can be hard to recover from a disappointing gift, even when it’s supposed to be a gag.

Studying mean gifts

The total cost of unwanted gifts is high, both in terms of dollars and in damaged relationships, I’ve found in my research.

Unwanted merchandise returned to U.S. retailers during the 2015 holiday season (excluding fraud cases) totaled US$60.84 billion. This sum of course leaves out the many unwanted gifts that are regifted, ignored, sold, donated or thrown away.

No data exist about how many presents are cruel, but this problem has implications for brands, retailers, marketers and consumers at a time when the National Retail Federation predicts that Americans are spending an estimated $678.75 billion a year on presents.

Depending on whether you’ve got similar tales of woe, you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that many people intentionally give gifts with no concerns for the recipient’s feelings.

Although it seems nonsensical to give someone a gift that will damage a relationship rather than strengthen it, some people deliberately do just that.

Not only are these returns a drag for businesses, they harm friendships and fray family bonds.

To undertake a study of mean presents, the first of its kind, I did in-depth interviews individually with the people in 15 relationships. Each interview with one member of these couples began with the question, “Can you tell me about gift giving between you and your partner over the course of time?” In these interviews, couples often spoke about gifts exchanged within their families, too.

To broaden the study, I searched family-focused message boards at the website using the keyword “gifts” and analyzed the more than 400,000 relevant results.

People, it turns out, really like to talk about gifts.

They talk online about great gifts and horrible gifts. They seek help from others to figure out what went wrong. They like to complain when they suspect that someone has intentionally given them an awful present.

5 kinds of inconsiderate presents

After reviewing the data, I identified five categories of inconsiderate gifts.

Confrontational. The first are gifts that are essentially personal affronts. One of my personal favorites is the pregnancy test a woman actually gave her childless daughter-in-law for Christmas.

I was also shocked by this other example that is purely aggressive rather than passive aggressive: A woman bought her grown son a book about Christianity knowing that he had given up the faith and didn’t appreciate being reminded of his mother’s disapproval.

Selfish. “To-you-for-me” gifts benefit givers more than recipients.

One sports-loving man in my study epitomized this category by giving his wife a big-screen television for her birthday, just in time for the Super Bowl that she didn’t plan to watch.

Aggressive. Sometimes gifts are explicitly meant to offend.

For example, after a man in my study gave his wife lawn furniture for Mother’s Day, she told him she hated the pattern and asked him to return it. Instead, he bought her more of that furniture for her birthday a few weeks later.

This category of crummy gifts signals a deteriorating relationship. Indeed, this couple got divorced not long after these incidents.

Obligatory. It’s always hard to select gifts when the giver doesn’t know or especially care what the recipient would want.

These obligatory presents, often exchanged and opened in front of groups, are not malicious gifts. They are simply meant to check a box. If everyone gathering round a Christmas tree is going to be giving each other something, you may feel safer giving your Aunt Sally a completely random thing even if you have no clue about what she’d like.

One woman bought her husband clothes for his birthday even though she knew he would end up returning most of them. When asked, “If you knew he wouldn’t like it, why did you buy it?,” she replied, “Probably just so he would have something on his birthday.” She felt the need to give a gift, but no need to please her husband.

Competitive. Gifts given for bragging rights are intended to “out-gift” someone else. A common example of this is what happens when someone gives their grandchild a present the kid’s parents specifically said not to buy.

One woman in my study reported that her parents were competing with her in-laws to give her kids increasingly large and extravagant gifts over her objections – then posting about it on Facebook.

To be sure, these categories may overlap. Ill-conceived gifts can be both aggressive and competitive, and “to-you—for-me” presents can also be confrontational.

Typical Americans are buying 15 gifts this holiday season. If any of yours sound like they fit the mold of these crummy presents, there’s still time to alleviate the suffering by not going through with your plan to give someone a cruel gift – or at least to apologize if it’s too late. The Conversation

The Atlantic writer Derek Thompson explains why many presents amount to what economists call “deadweight loss”: The company wasted time making it, the giver wasted time buying it, and the receiver wasted time returning it.

Deborah Y. Cohn, Associate Professor of Marketing, New York Institute of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.