BOSTON -- GasBuddy and Cuebiq, a location intelligence and measurement company, have released a joint quarterly study examining foot traffic in the convenience-store and fuel-retailing industry in the United States during the first quarter of 2018.
From Jan. 1 to March 31, GasBuddy and Cuebiq analyzed location-visit data at more than 100 fuel and c-store brands and more than 32.6 million consumer visits across the United States to understand foot traffic trends, provide geo-behavioral and consumer insights and identify the effects of key factors such as ratings and reviews on point-of-interest visits. To be considered a “visit,” a user must be within 30 meters of a fuel pump for two to 30 minutes.
“More than half (53%) of visits to gas stations and convenience stores lasted less than five minutes,” said Frank Beard, c-store and retail trends analyst for GasBuddy, Boston. “Knowing how often your customers frequent your stores and tailoring your offerings to take advantage of high traffic points during the week can prompt your customers to spend more time in the store and increase their basket size.”
Here are five insights from the report …
1. Stores with highest average foot traffic
The report split the ranking of stores by foot traffic into four categories based on store count. The footfall ratio equals average footfall per location over the average footfall for the industry. A brand on par with the industry average would have a ratio of 1.0. The retailers with the most average foot traffic in each category and their respective scores are:
- 1,000 or more locations:Speedway, 1.95
- 250 to 999 locations: Costco, 3.62
- 50 to 249 locations:Thorntons, 3.31
- 30 to 49 locations:Ricker's, 3.15
According to the report, Speedway took the top spot in its category due to improvements to its fresh foodservice and a renewed focus on its loyalty program, Speedy Rewards.
2. Honorable mention
Although Cumberland Farms did not reach the top 10 ranking in its category of 250 to 999 locations, the chain saw the highest average foot traffic in its market areas of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont—all of New England. Cumberland Farms was the only chain with the highest average foot traffic in six states. Wawa followed with the highest average foot traffic in five states with a score of 2.24.
3. Busiest days at the pump
Wednesday at 5 p.m. is the busiest time for fuel and convenience brands, followed by Friday from 4 to 6 p.m., according to the report. While those are the busiest times of day, the report found the busiest days overall to be Friday, Thursday and Wednesday.
4. The review effect
GasBuddy linked the results of the foot traffic study to the ratings on its app, concluding that gas stations with below-average customer service ratings on the app saw 15% fewer visits than the industry average. Conversely, gas stations with above-average customer service ratings on the app saw a lift of nearly 7%.
5. Foodservice perception
A recent GasBuddy survey found that 31% of respondents purchase breakfast at gas stations and c-stores, while 26% purchase lunch there, 9% purchase dinner and 79% purchase snacks.
And while the industry continues to improve foodservice, GasBuddy found what it calls a “perception gap” from consumers. The survey found that 60% of respondents said they purchase food from gas stations and c-stores, while 86% said they purchase food at quick-service restaurants. In the report, GasBuddy suggested investing in relevant marketing around foodservice, in addition to keeping up standards of cleanliness and ambiance in forecourts and restrooms.