Latest figures from the US show that the number of convenience stores selling vehicle fuels rose 4.3% in 2003, while total c-store numbers dipped 1.3%.

The National Association of Convenience Stores said that as competition for customers intensified, store operators were looking to add products and services - such as motor fuels - to their offers.

NACS noted that this competition saw some operators examine the profitability of their stores, which led to closures and the store count decline.

Some 81.3% of all c-stores now sell motor fuels. While every region across the US saw growth in the number of stores selling motor fuels, it was led by a 15.3% increase in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

NACS said that the state of Texas accounts for nearly one in 10 of all US c-stores.