Outlook Survey 2020: Woes at the Pump and Backbar

Chip-card compliance deadline divides the c-store industry

CHICAGO — On the forecourt, one primary issue separates retailers: upgrading pumps to EMV chip-card compliance by the April 2021 deadline.

About half of retailers (46%) who responded to CSP’s survey are in the process of upgrading, while 40% already upgraded, and 14% do not plan on upgrading. The main reason retailers said they have already complied or plan to is to avoid liability risk (52%).

Fuel and convenience retailers who fail to upgrade payment equipment at the pumps to EMV could face potential costs of, on average, $17,315 per site, or $207,780 over 12 months post-liability shift to make up for data breaches or skimming, an analysis from Mercator Advisory Group and Transaction Network Services (TNS) found.

For retailers that do not plan to upgrade by the deadline, reasons vary.

About 43% said it is a poor return on investment, 21% said they do not have the financial means to pay for it, 21% said upgrade crews are not available and 14% said sites are not vulnerable to skimming.

When it comes to what will have the greatest effect on future fuel demand, though, retailers said it is changing consumer behavior or preferences (37%), fuel prices (25%), electric vehicles (24%) and regulations (14%).

Many consumers are already making the switch to electric vehicles, and c-stores are implementing more and more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. California Gov. Gavin Newsom in September signed an executive order requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2025.

Newsom is making things tougher inside stores, as well. In August, he signed a bill that bans the sale of flavored tobacco products in the state. Opponents of the ban are trying to put the issue in front of voters via a referendum.

Retailers are split in their level of concern about the issue.

About 46% of survey respondents said the tobacco and vape category is threatened, and they expect more cities and states to follow California’s lead in banning the sale of flavored tobacco and vape products. Meanwhile, about 43% said tobacco bans are not a concern at this time, and about 11% said they are already operating in an area where the sale of such products is banned.

Massachusetts’ flavored-tobacco sales ban, which includes menthol products, took effect this summer, but stock analyst Bonnie Herzog, managing director at Goldman Sachs, New York, said in a recent National Association of Tobacco Outlets webinar that a more widespread ban is unlikely.

“Those states are unique, so while I think there’s some increased risk of [more flavor bans], I still don’t foresee a lot of states having these menthol bans,” Herzog said.

What are your long-term expectations (10+ years out) for fuel demand?
What changes do you plan to make to your fuel offering in 2021? (Choose all that apply)
What do you think will have the greatest (positive or negative) effect on future fuel demand?

Source: CSP’s 2020 Outlook Survey | Numbers may not add to 100 due to rounding.

Click here to read the complete 2020 Outlook Survey report. -EMBED LANDING PAGE URL-

CSP’s 2020 Outlook Survey conducted between Sept. 9-23 and fielded 74 responses from CSP readers. Click here to visit report landing page.

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