Total merchandise purchases by truckstops nationwide served by McLane Corp. increased 10% during the 2011 third quarter compared with a year earlier, led largely by growth in automotive product and hot dispensed beverage sales, according to the McLane-NATSO Index.

The index, designed to illustrate market trends within the truckstop and travel plaza industry by comparing the average weekly wholesale sales of supply chain provider McLane to truckstop convenience stores, found that average purchases per truckstop jumped to $17,300 from $15,700 per week compared with the same three-month period in 2010.

The 2011 Third Quarter McLane-NATSO Index shows that automotive product sales jumped 58% for the period ended Sept. 30 compared with the 2010 third quarter, reflecting increased demand and a growth in shelf space dedicated to this merchandise.

Hot dispensed beverages, including coffee and teas, increased 28% compared with a year earlier. The increase was driven largely by rapidly escalating coffee bean prices, which spiked 44% between the third quarter of 2010 and 2011.

"This index allows NATSO members to identify product trends and maximize their ability to meet changing customer demands," said NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings.

Total merchandise purchases include the range of convenience store items sold at a truckstop, excluding cigarettes, divided into nine other categories including candy, snacks, non-alcoholic packaged beverages, automotive products, commissary, food service, other dairy and deli products, and hot and cold dispensed beverages. McLane tracks its weekly wholesale sales for more than 900 truckstop locations nationwide. The complete index report, including regional breakdowns, is circulated free to all NATSO members.