US c-stores experienced record in-store sales of $233 billion in 2016 — and the third straight year of $10 billion-plus in pretax profits — according to NACS State of the Industry data released this week.

While tobacco continues to be the biggest in-store category with 36 percent of  sales, the category accounted for just 18.2 percent of gross profit dollars. Foodservice, meanwhile, accounted for nearly 22 percent of in-store sales as well as 35.2 percent of gross profit dollars. The category includes prepared and commissary food as well as hot, cold and dispensed beverages. The NACS releasenoted that prepared food and cold dispensed beverages drove the category's growth. In 2016, convenience stores experienced growth in every foodservice subcategory except for commissary and frozen dispensed beverages.

Snacking categories, including salty, candy and alternative snacks, all had strong growth as some consumers, especially millennials, moved toward snacking and away from traditional meals. For the second consecutive year, alternative snacks, a category driven by protein- and energy-rich items, reached the top 10 in-store merchandise categories, also signaling a desire by consumers for immediate/healthier snacking options.