CHICAGO — Convenience stores are robbing restaurants of traffic, according to a recent report from market research firm Technomic, Inc.

Nearly a third of consumers said they would have visited a restaurant had they not purchased prepared foods from a convenience store on their most recent visit, and 26% indicated they would have visited a fast-food restaurant.

Click the infographic for a closer look at food service usage at convenience stores.

Fifty-three per cent of consumers surveyed buy food from convenience stores once a week or more, compared with 57% who visit a restaurant on a weekly basis, according to Technomic. The survey included an on-line panel of 4,000 convenience store shoppers.

“Due to location and speed of service, c-stores are always going to be a dining option,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of Technomic. “Recently, however, we’ve seen a concerted effort to improve the quality of food and service provided at these locations. If c-stores can continue enhancing these areas, they can look to drive traffic from restaurants.”

Leading the chains for food service usage is 7-Eleven, where 39% of survey participants purchased food within the previous two months. The chain expanded its food options this year with breakfast empanada bites, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and a healthy snack section featuring such items as dry-roasted edamame, organic trail mix, vegetable chips and dried fruit and nut blends.

Circle K and Chevron follow in food service patronage, each with 17% of consumers buying food in the past two months.

Nine out of 10 convenience store users consider food quality and flavor when deciding which store to visit. Wawa earned the highest food and beverage ratings, trailed by Quick Trip, Sheetz, Stripes and Kwik Trip.

Nigel Travis, chief executive officer of Dunkin’ Brands, discussed the emerging competition from convenience stores during an Oct. 24 earnings call.

“We do see convenience chains thinking about food and beverage — that’s something we’re very aware of,” Mr. Travis said. “Most of these competitors are very good. They’ve invested new concepts — you’ve seen that from everyone from Race Trac, Wawa, 7-Eleven. We’re aware of all these. Our franchisees are highly aware of them. And we talk about competitors like these all the time with our franchisees.”