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Consumer shopping habits have changed during COVID-19 pandemic, says Couche-Tard

A Couche Tard convenience store is shown in Montreal, Friday, October 5, 2012. Alimentation Couche-Tard says consumers have adjusted their shopping habits during the COVID-19 lockdowns by purchasing larger-sized packages and stocking up on beer, wine and tobacco products. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard says shoppers are purchasing larger-sized packages and stocking up on beer, wine and tobacco products during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

The Quebec-based convenience store chain says there was strong growth in the sale of alcoholic beverages, where these sales are permitted, because of the closure of bars and restaurants.

Chief executive Brian Hannasch says there was a shift to cases of 24 and 30 beers from six-packs along with grocery-sized packages of salty and confectionery items.

Couche-Tard beat expectations as it reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$576.3 million or 52 cents per share for the period ended April 26, up from US$293.1 million or 26 cents per share a year earlier.

Even with traffic starting to improve as the economy reopens, Hannasch told analysts during a call about the financial results that he’s been surprised that some of the larger-sized formats remain popular as customers are limiting their shopping trips.

Hannasch says the shift to larger packages was “pretty global” even though alcohol sales aren’t available in Europe or much of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2020.

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The Canadian Press