OAK BROOK, Ill. -- With gasoline prices holding at historically high numbers and penny margins sticking at traditional patterns, evidence grows that convenience retailers are accepting a new reality about the fuel island. Heightening this awarenesswhich sees the forecourt more as a traffic driver than as a cash cowis Wal-Mart's aggressive posture toward fuel, one that portends a national reach, including bulking up in currently weak Northeast and West Coast markets.
Indeed, in Thursday's CSP Daily News Poll, readers were emphatic in their response to [image-nocss] whether they thought Wal-Mart would roll out gasoline nationally, as has been rumored. By presstime, 86% of nearly 300 respondents expected a coast-to-coast Wal-Mart fuel presence, while 14% either doubted such expansion or were not sure.
The poll results come as Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart retools its focus, increasing the role of a Wal-Mart proprietary gasoline brand to complement its anchor partnership with Murphy Oil, an alliance largely responsible for most of the 1,200 fueling islands in Wal-Mart's parking lots.
[Learn more about Wal-Mart's fuel strategy in the September issue of CSP magazine.]
I can't tell you how popular our gas stations are with our customers, Wal-Mart spokesperson Sharon Weber told CSP, acknowledging reports that the global giant could have 100 fueling stations by this time next year fielding the Wal-Mart label.
We're just looking to fill in the gaps right now, she added. We're all about pleasing the customer and offering them major savings with our everyday low price, whether it's inside the store or at the station.