BOSTON — More than half (55%) of consumers spent at least five minutes at every convenience-store or gas-station visit during this year’s first quarter, while 45% spent less than five minutes at each store, according to mobile app GasBuddy’s recent analysis of foot traffic in the c-store industry.
The study examined more than 20 million consumer visits to more than 100 fuel and convenience retailers between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2019, to convey behavioral shifts that drive foot traffic. To be considered a “visit,” a consumer must have been within 30 meters of a fuel pump for between two and 30 minutes.
- Click here to read GasBuddy’s foot-traffic insights from its 2018 year-end review.
GasBuddy gives each store a footfall ratio, which equals average footfall per location over average footfall for the industry. A brand on par with the industry average would have a ratio of 1. It splits the rankings into four subcategories based on store count, including 1,000 locations or more, 250 to 999 locations, 50 to 249 locations and 30 to 49 locations.
“More than half of consumer visits to the pumps in Q1 lasted longer than five minutes, suggesting that they’re just as interested in filling up on in-store items as they are on gas,” said Frank Beard, convenience-store and retail trends analyst for Boston-based GasBuddy. “However, the fact that many consumers prefer to fill up at supermarkets with fuel programs rather than gas stations should be a call to action for fuel and convenience brands to rethink their offers before stores with produce sections eat their lunch.”
Here are five foot-traffic insights from GasBuddy’s first-quarter survey …
Costco dominated the rankings for brands with 250 to 999 locations. The warehouse club garnered a footfall ratio of 4.56, the highest of any brand in any category. Following Costco were Sam’s Club and Pilot, which amassed ratios of 3.05 and 2.72, respectively.
Buc-ee’s took top honors for stores with 30 to 49 locations with a ratio of 3.38. The c-store chain was followed by Ricker's and On the Run St. Louis, which finished with ratios of 3.34 and 2.40, respectively.
Footfall by state
Kroger had the highest footfall ratio in six states across the country, the most of any c-store or gas station in any category. Wawa came in second place, amassing the highest footfall in five states. Cumberland Farms and Costco tied for third place, each claiming the highest footfall in four states, while Kwik Trip had the highest footfall ratio in three states, good for fourth place.
Gotta get down on Friday
Friday at 5 p.m. was the busiest hour for fuel and convenience retailers during this year’s first quarter. Specifically, between noon and 5 p.m. was busier than any other time frame on any other day. This five-hour period was also the busiest for every day of the week, while midnight to 6 a.m. was the least busy period. Friday was the busiest day overall, followed by Saturday, Thursday, Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday and Sunday.
Most consumers are spending more than five minutes in c-stores (55%) because they’re purchasing more items such as fresh food, beverages and consumer packaged goods, GasBuddy said. Consumers spent more time in stores than filling up on gas (two to three minutes) during this quarter, which reflects the industry’s emphasis on quality in-store offers, as well as reaffirms the findings in GasBuddy's Foodservice and Consumer Habits Survey, revealing that 60% of consumers purchase food and beverages at c-stores.
Keep it lit
C-stores and gas stations with above-average outdoor lighting ratings garnered 7.94% more visits than their below-average counterparts, the highest of any rating category. This was followed by store cleanliness (7.10%), customer service (5.48%) and coffee (2.73%).