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7-Eleven opens first Long Island mall store as coffee competition grows 

The new 7-Eleven is at Westfield South Shore

The new 7-Eleven is at Westfield South Shore mall in Bay Shore. Credit: James Carbone

7-Eleven sells more coffee on Long Island than anywhere else in the nation.

The retailer has found a place to sell more — the mall.

The new 7-Eleven in Westfield South Shore in Bay Shore is the retailer’s first mall location on Long Island and ninth mall location overall, as the nation’s largest chain of convenience stores continues a major growth trajectory that includes nontraditional spaces.

"We are constantly looking to meet customer’s evolving needs to serve them when and where they need it. We will continue to evaluate the success of special locations, such as mall stores, so we can explore entering additional markets in the future," said the company, based in Irving, Texas.

The 1,690-square-foot store in Westfield South Shore is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 7-Eleven said. (All 7-Eleven stores used to operate from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., which is where the retailer's name comes from, before the chain began operating 24/7 stores in 1963.)

This Westfield South Shore store "includes 7-Eleven’s new expanded hot and cold beverage menu, with the addition of touch-screen machines that brew custom specialty coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and espresso shots in just seconds," the retailer said in a statement.

LI role in 7-Eleven's 'go' cup

7-Eleven has a lengthy historical relationship with Long Island, where the chain remains popular despite increased competition from more upscale coffee sellers, such as Starbucks, Panera Bread and Gregorys Coffee.

"7-Eleven introduced the first on-the-go coffee cup in Long Island in 1964, when one of our store owners was looking for a new, creative way to bring convenience to his customers," according to the chain.

Furthermore, the chain says it sells more coffee on Long Island than elsewhere in the country.

Founded in 1927, 7-Eleven Inc. operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 72,800 stores in 17 countries, including 12,000 in North America.

The company is owned by Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., a Japanese holding company.

Amid increased competition, 7-Eleven has been pushing major growth for several years.

Big growth for chain

"Even with the [COVID-19] pandemic, they opened over 150 locations last year, which is pretty amazing," said Donna Hood Crecca, a principal at Technomic, a restaurant and retail industry research firm in Chicago.

Furthermore, 7-Eleven Inc. is in the process of buying 3,900 Speedway locations — the nation’s third-largest chain of convenience stores — from Marathon Petroleum for $21 billion.

All of this, as well as 7-Eleven now offering consumers’ delivery of purchases they make via the retailer’s app, is part of the chain's efforts to meet customers "where they are, wherever they are," Crecca said.

"And I think that this location in the mall here is part of that overarching strategy," she said.

Brick-and-mortar retailers struggled amid the pandemic last year, when there were 9,231 U.S. store closings announced, according to Coresight Research, a Manhattan-based advisory and research firm specializing in retail and technology.

But shopping malls were struggling with the loss of foot traffic and rising vacancy rates well before the pandemic.

One of the reasons is that they were too dependent on clothing retailers, which are losing business to online competitors, said Marie Driscoll, managing director of luxury and fashion at Coresight Research.

Mall landlords have sought to fill vacancies with tenants that aren’t as susceptible to online competition, such as movie theaters, spas, restaurants, medical offices and family entertainment centers.

"The thing is, if you’re a mall, retail has to reflect the community. And convenience stores are increasingly a part of the way we shop for things," Driscoll said.

Also, convenience stores may add resilience to malls’ tenant lineups because they typically are not affected by the state of the economy, said Robin Trantham, consultant with the CoStar Group, a Washington, D.C.-based provider of commercial real estate information.

Impulse buying at convenience stores tends to hold its own during recessions, said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, an Alexandria, Virginia-based trade group.

"Some may actually increase as an affordable luxury: Instead of going on vacation or going out to dinner, I’m going to treat myself to a snack," he said.

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