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‘Challenger’ Wawa Among Fastest-Growing Brands: Yelp

‘Consumer interest’ helps convenience-store chain earn the No. 5 spot on business review platform’s inaugural list
yelp fastest growing brands 2024

Business review platform Yelp has named convenience-store retailer Wawa as fifth in its first ranking of the 50 fastest-growing brands. The Wawa, Pennsylvania-based company was the only c-store brand to make the list.

Yelp ranked brands based on net-new location openings, consumer interest and searches “to recognize the companies that have successfully executed growth strategies over the last year.”

Wawa, a “challenger” brand—defined as a business that is not a market leader but aims to compete by disrupting its industry—experienced an 88% increase in consumer interest as it saw its grab-and-go food offerings resonate with customers. The chain saw its fastest growth in Virginia, Florida and New Jersey, where consumer interest surged 137%.

From newly public companies to those scaling regionally to industry mainstays broadening their footprint, the brands featured on the list are expanding at a fast rate nationally, by state and geographical region, Yelp said.

Yelp’s data demonstrates momentum for challenger food, restaurant and retail brands that are quickly becoming the next class of household favorites, it said. Challenger brands make up more than 70% of the brands on the list, said Yelp.

Click here to view the full Yelp list.

  • Wawa is No. 10 on CSP’s 2024 Top 40 Update to the 2023 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2024 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News.

Wawa has more than 1,000 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. The company previously announced that it will open 80 c-stores in North Carolina, the first eight in 2024, and up to 20 in Georgia, with the first under construction in late 2023. It is opening its first store in North Carolina in Kill Devil Hills on May 16.

Over the next 10 or more years, Wawa plans to build at least 80 stores across North Carolina markets, with the first eight to 10 stores opening in 2024 and up to 15 stores opening in 2025. It also has revealed plans for 160 stores across the Midwest in KentuckyOhio and Indiana. And it said it plans to grow its store count in existing markets.

Separately, voting is now open for the 2024 USA Today Best Gas Station Brand, and Wawa is among the candidates. A panel of experts from USA Today partnered with 10Best editors to pick the 20 nominees based on cleanliness, fresh coffee, fuel options and more. Interested participants can vote once per day till May 6. Ten winners will be announced on Wednesday, May 15.

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