5 C-Store Design Trends for 2022
In 2022, consumers don’t just want brands – they want fun, bold, exciting in-store experiences that brighten their day and leave them feeling good. They want colour, they want high-quality, and they want a design with punch. Mainly, they want a reason to leave their comfort zone and delight in the joys of being able to browse freely without masks, plastic walls, or physical distance (good riddance). Today’s customers want to be wowed.
C-Store owners have realized if they want to bring people back in-store (and stand out from the competition), it’s time to step their game up. Let’s take a look at the most noticeable, influential design trends sweeping the C-store industry in 2022.
Trend 1: US trends slow to take hold in Canada
Typically, Canada tends to lag behind the United States when it comes to adopting innovations. Our neighbours to the South have developed some interesting concepts when it comes to C-stores, and these same changes could be seen closer to home in the years to come.
App-based ordering and delivery-based service have become the norm for the majority of North American convenience stores. Many US locations are creating dedicated pickup windows and sections dedicated solely to this type of customer. This includes walk-up takeout windows and store designs that are split 50/50, with half of the tills reserved for contactless pickup and half catering to the traditional in-store customer. So far, Canadian C-stores are largely taking a “wait and see approach.”
Other C-store trends that have been slow to catch on here are self-checkout booths, unstaffed and tech-powered stores. But hey, somebody is sure to lead the charge. Maybe that will be you!
Trend 2: Higher-end finishes that add to the customer experience
C-store owners continue to invest in higher-quality finishes and millwork. Consumers demand more from businesses these days, and enticing customers to get out of their cars or homes and into a store is not an easy feat. Stores that commit to improving the customer experience through elevated interiors and sophisticated design stand out from the competition.
More and more C-stores are being built with higher-end finishes that can be made to resemble luxurious surfaces that you might find in your favourite restaurant, luxury hotel, or dream kitchen.
Laminates are being replaced by quality materials like quartz, corian, and designer veneers, while floor tiles that are indistinguishable from wood or stone provide an inviting natural look while ensuring greater durability.
Also, powder-coated metal cabinets and aluminum composite materials have become a top choice for creating a sleek, modern look. They are built to last and are available in a wide range of colours.
Trend 3: Decaling for unique interior and exterior designs
Vinyl full-wall and window decals have become increasingly popular in C-store design. Refreshing an interior or exterior surface with a fun, bold, and colourful mural or branding design is an easy, cost-efficient way to update a space and create a style-forward store.
What’s more, when it comes time to replace or revamp, the graphic can simply be peeled off, leaving the wall open to clean and reuse with no leftover mess or hassle.
Trend 4: Touchless washrooms are now the norm
Remodeling restroom facilities has been a growing priority for years. The switch to touchless technology dramatically accelerated during the pandemic. According to a survey conducted by Dyson in 2020, three-quarters of Canadians were more concerned about visiting public washrooms during the pandemic and more than half chose to visit public facilities less frequently.
It is a trend that is here to stay – as increased awareness around hygiene has become ingrained. Touchless taps, soap dispensers, and hand dryers (often all in one) are becoming the norm, not the exception. Other examples include foot-pull door openers.
“If you know a particular store or brand has nice clean washrooms, particularly along a highway route, you’re more likely to stop there than another location that doesn’t measure up,”Devin Mahaffey, President at CTM Design Services Ltd.
Trend 5: Owners laying the groundwork for EV charging and future fuels
Many C-stores are holding off on putting in EV chargers until the demand is there. However, they are being proactive by putting underground infrastructure in place to allow for EV charging stations in the future. Design plans will account for the future placement of charging stations, and the impact on traffic flow. Underground wiring and 480V service will be put in place so it’s ready to go when the time comes. The actual charging stations can be purchased and installed when the market demand is there.
“It costs far less to put the wiring in place when you’re doing your initial site work than to rip up pavement and sidewalks to upgrade at a later date,” Mahaffey said.
As stores prepare to meet the demand for EV stations, they are increasing their capacity to occupy visitors (and increase sales) while vehicles are charging. This includes a renewed interest in kitchen-grade hot food options with inviting in-store seating and new beverage offerings displayed in bigger, more consumer-focussed coolers.
And it’s not just EV charging that’s getting all of the attention.
“At the executive level, companies are already thinking what hydrogen fueling would require, and how it would impact existing sites,” Mahaffey added.
Go the extra mile
These trends reflect the needs and expectations of today’s more demanding consumer. It might seem daunting, but by investing in your customer you are earning their loyalty. Shoppers will always want to see what’s in a store firsthand. You just have to provide the push that gets them through the doors.