Convenience store dinner? On their way

Source: switz1873 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

NEW YORK (AP) - Convenience stores are looking to become a bigger competitor to fast-food chains on speed and value.

Prepared foods like pizzas, burgers and coffee accounted for 22 percent of convenience store sales last year, up from 13 percent in 2010. Places like 7-Eleven are expanding their hot food offerings in hopes of stealing customers away from fast-food chains, and to offset what's expected to be ongoing declines in smoking rates and cigarette sales.

Low prices and speed are a main attraction. McDonald's partly blames its declining number of customer visits in the U.S. on its failure to hold onto the deal-seekers at the cheaper end of its menu after eliminating the Dollar Menu.

A challenge for many operators is to change the perception about the quality of convenience-store food.

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