‘Busiest day of the year’

Published 1:29 pm Friday, December 24, 2010

Batteries, butter and beer have more in common than phonics.

They’re also some of the most frequently purchased convenience store items on Christmas Day, one local 7-Eleven franchisee reports.

After 16 years with 7-Eleven, Billy Hampton Jr. knows how to prepare for Christmas. He spent most of Thursday ensuring the store’s shelves were full of stocking stuffers, eggs, sugar, flour, butter, bacon, ice cream and batteries — especially AA and D batteries.

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“I think that’s the busiest day of the year,” Hampton said of Christmas Day. “It’s like the world’s not going to open again.”

Hampton runs the 7-Eleven franchise on Godwin Boulevard across from Sentara Obici Hospital. The store usually gets full around mid-morning each Christmas and stays packed throughout the day, he said.

“It doesn’t pick up until about 10 o’clock in the morning, after the kids have opened their presents,” Hampton said. “People are just grabbing eggs, bacon, butter. I guess they’re having their Christmas breakfast.”

Later in the day, the sales turn to prepared food items, like hot dogs and nachos, as well as dinner items and batteries for the kids’ toys.

“We sell the heck out of ice cream,” Hampton said. “And lots of food off the grill,” assumedly while people are waiting for their turkey dinner.

On Christmas night, Hampton said, the store does brisk business in wine and beer.

“That’s why I’m here now,” Hampton said. “I’m making sure you got all your wine out, all your eggs up, all the last-minute Christmas stocking stuffers are presented so you can see it and it’s not hidden in the store.”

In his many years with 7-Eleven, Hampton said, the most-purchased Christmas items haven’t changed, although the number of people buying them has.

“It’s pretty much the same stuff,” he said. “We’ve noticed the preparation before Christmas has slowed down due to the economy.”

So if you find yourself in need of batteries, butter, or any other convenience-store item today, be confident that when you head out to the store, you won’t be alone.