Attendance at the 2017 NACS Show surged 7.0% to a record 24,940 attendees from 63 countries, according to figures released today by NACS.
In addition, “buyers” attending the NACS Show (classified as retailers and convenience distributors, including Petroleum Equipment Institute [PEI] registration) grew 3.3% to 8,502.
The NACS Show is the premier event of the year for the convenience and fuel retailing industry. It featured four days of general sessions, 60 education sessions and 1,263 exhibiting companies in a record-setting 425,800 net-square-foot expo.
The NACS Show general session speakers featured industry, business and leadership experts, and the popular NACS Ideas 2 Go program, a fast-paced video program of emerging concepts that redefine convenience, made its 2017 debut. The Ideas 2 Go program is available for purchase at convenience.org/ideas2go2017.
Attendees also could choose from education sessions covering relevant industry topics such as foodservice and food safety, leadership development, marketing, technology and fuels. Reflecting the growing international opportunities offered at the NACS Show, select education sessions were translated into Portuguese and Spanish, and the general sessions were translated into Portuguese, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
In addition, the NACS Convenience Matters podcast recorded a dozen new episodes that included NACS Show general session speakers William Shatner and Chip Conley, as well as a special live session with prominent convenience retail industry CEOs Billy Milam (RaceTrac Petroleum Inc.) and Kevin Smartt (Kwik Chek Food Stores). These episodes are available at www.conveniencematters.com.
Extending the value of the expo, the popular Cool New Products Preview Room showcased 312 new products and services from 186 companies. Visitors to the Preview Room used handheld scanners to capture product and booth information of the exhibitors they were interested in, producing nearly 20,000 total product scans. The New Exhibitor area was also a popular destination for attendees, featuring 200 exhibitors new to the convenience and fuel retailing industry and NACS Show.
TechEdge at the NACS Show, in its fourth year, attracted 470 industry technology professionals participating in the program’s specialized education sessions on topics ranging from data security to how to improve overall operational efficiency. This year, the TechEdge Center at the expo displayed three future technologies—in action—that address mobile payments, connected commerce and IoT monitoring.
TechEdge was cosponsored by Conexxus, one of four cosponsors of the NACS Show in addition to NACS. The others were the Petroleum Marketers Association of America (PMAA), Petroleum Equipment Institute (PEI) and, new in 2017, the National Grocers Association (NGA).
Attendees also experienced the new brand identity of NACS, which focused on the ‘C’ in convenience.
“I love the versatility of the ‘C’ with our rebrand. It certainly stands for convenience—but it can stand for so many other aspects of our industry,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour, highlighting some of the other unique industry facets that the C represents. For example, the C stands for customers: The U.S. convenience store industry serves more than 160 million customers per day—half of the country’s total population.
C also stands for community, and that message was highlighted in donations to local food banks both before and after the NACS Show. Prior to the NACS Show, Tyson Foods Inc. and NACS partnered to donate a truckload of protein totaling 36,060 pounds to the Greater Chicago Food Depository to help fight hunger in the Chicagoland area. The Food Depository will distribute the donated food, which is equivalent to 144,240 meals, through its network of partner agencies, including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelter services across Chicago and Cook County.
At the conclusion of the NACS Show, more than 52,000 pounds of refrigerated and frozen food product were collected by Greater Chicago Food Depository volunteers; the Ronald McDonald House collected 70,000 pounds of shelf-stable goods for use in their local facilities and other charities.
“We truly believe that c-store doesn’t just stand for convenience store—it also stands for community store, and we are proud to join Tyson Foods in supporting the Chicagoland community that we call home this week during the NACS Show,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.
The NACS Show is also a business meeting and NACS elected new members to its Retailer and Supplier Boards. Joe Sheetz, president and CEO of Altoona, Pennsylvania-based Sheetz Inc., was named the 2017-18 NACS Chairman, and Jay Ard, vice president of national sales, convenience retail, at The Coca-Cola Company, was named 2017–18 chairman of the NACS Supplier Board.
Sheetz talked about the industry’s focus on communities during his Oct. 20 NACS Show speech. “Our industry’s commitment to the communities we serve is truly amazing. We collectively contribute $1 billion a year to charities,” said Sheetz. “But it’s not about just stroking checks. It’s about volunteering time, donating product and supporting first-responders. There is no industry more grounded in their communities than we are.”
The 2018 NACS Show will take place October 7–10 in Las Vegas at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Highlights from the 2017 NACS Show and information on next year’s event can be found at nacsshow.com. NACS has a complete listing of 2018 events posted at convenience.org/calendar.
This year marked the 25th annual NACS Show, which has attracted more than 500,000 attendees over the past quarter century. However, NACS has held an annual meeting since its founding in 1961. It wasn’t until 1976 that the meeting even included a true exhibition. While NACS continued to hold annual meetings, the expo was part of the event only every two or three years. From 1986 on, the annual meeting included an expo, although those early years featured a greatly scaled-down expo every other year until what is known today as the NACS Show debuted in 1993. Today, the NACS Show rotates between three cities: Chicago, Las Vegas and Atlanta.