WASHINGTON — Grocery sales are growing at Washington area convenience stores as high gas prices cause shoppers to cut down on driving, say trade officials.

7-Eleven stores saw grocery sales rise 2 to 3 percent last month over a year ago, Tom Gerrity, director of that corporation’s processed foods division told The Washington Post. Frozen food sales grew 7 percent, and ready-to-eat meals jumped 9 percent, in what experts say may be a national trend to buy more locally.

“Some of the products that would typically be purchased at a supermarket or club store in bulk quantities, we’re seeing more customers buy those products throughout the month at a 7-Eleven,” he said.

Those smaller food purchases may soon change convenience store marketing emphasis away from simply gasoline, cigarettes and other tobacco products, bottled beverages and alcoholic drinks, say observers.

“It’s important to add destination appeal so that shoppers think of them not only as convenience,” said Jennifer Halterman, Retail Forward senior consultant. “Adding that second layer can help them in the future.”