GasBuddy study provides insights on C-Store foot traffic after fueling

GasBuddy’s new study shows which fuel and convenience brands have the highest foot traffic — and offers insight on what keeps customers around after filling up the tank.

GasBuddy’s quarterly study examines foot traffic in the $654 billion fuel and convenience retailing industry across the U.S. — analysing more than 20.3 million consumer visits between January 1 and March 31, 2019.

The report separates fuel and convenience brands into four segments based on their number of locations. Brands who received the highest average foot traffic per station in their respective categories include Ohio-based Speedway, Washington-based Costco, Kentucky-based Thorntons and Texas-based Buc-ee’s.

“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 at 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.” said Beard.

Americans are spending more time at gas stations, venturing into the convenience store and purchasing items including fresh food, beverages and consumer packaged goods. More than half (55%) of consumer visits to fuel and convenience retailers lasted for longer than five minutes during Q1. This exceeds the average two to three minutes it takes to refuel a vehicle and reflects the industry’s emphasis on quality in-store offers, as well as reaffirming the findings in

GasBuddy’s Foodservice and Consumer Habits Survey, revealing that 60% of consumers purchase food and beverages at convenience stores. Costco captured the highest footfall per station of any brand in any segment — more than four-and-a-half times the industry average. Other segment winners include Speedway, Thorntons and Buc-ee’s.

Supermarkets with fuel programs are popular destinations for filling up, representing four out of the top 10 brands in two segments: 50-249 locations and 250-999 locations. Friday was the busiest day for fuel and convenience retailers in Q1, followed by Saturday (2) and Thursday (3). The four busiest times also took place on Friday — 5 pm, 4 pm, 12 pm, and 3 pm — followed by Saturday at 12 pm in fifth place.

Kroger captured the highest average footfall in six states — the most of any fuel or convenience retailer. Wawa came in a close second with five states, and Cumberland Farms and Costco tied with four wins each. Today’s customers have many choices, and they prefer to refuel at stations that are well-lit in the evenings and early morning. During Q1, stations with above-average outdoor lighting ratings drove 25.9% more visits than their below average competitors.