The number of U.S. convenience stores jumped to a record 154,958 by the end of 2017, a 0.3 percent increase form the previous year, according to the 2018 NACS/Nielsen Convenience Industry Store Count.

"Our continued growth suggests that the convenience and fuel retailing industry's core offer of convenience continues to resonate with consumers," says Chris Rapanick, director of business development at NACS. "Convenience stores are the destination of choice for the 160 million customers who frequent their community convenience store each day to refresh and refuel, whether it's to grab a quick snack and a beverage, or a fresh-prepared meal."

A total of 423 c-stores were added in 2017, including 139 units from single-store operators. Overall, there was a 1 percent decline in c-stores that sell motor fuels, which can be attributed to the evolving business models that include more instore foodservice and more urban, walk-up locations.

“Convenience stores saw solid growth in 2017 due to an increased focus on innovation, improved customer experience, assortment variation and healthy investments in food services,” saysJeanne Danubio, EVP retail for lead markets at Nielsen. “All of these factors have enabled convenience stores to meet the needs of consumers, stretching far beyond the pump. This shift must continue to further expand c-store's relevance in today's changing retail landscape. As more retailers across channels try to cater to convenience seeking consumers, c-stores will need to continue to innovate and evolve and grow to stay ahead of the curve.”