Survey: More Americans seek out C-stores for quality of food

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Survey: More Americans seek out C-stores for quality of food


There’s good news for convenience stores and store brands. According to a survey from the Alexandria, Va.-based National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Americans are increasingly seeking out fueling locations based on the quality of the food associated with the gas station. NACS represents the convenience store industry, which sells 80 percent of the fuel purchased in the United States.

While survey results show that gas price is still the primary determinant in selecting a station, an increasing percentage of consumers say that the quality of items inside the store dictates where they buy fuel. One in seven drivers (16 percent) say that in-store offerings are driving fueling decision, a 5 percent increase since 2015. While 51 percent of American drivers still say that gas price is the reason that they prefer a specific store or chain, the number represents a 6 percent drop over the past two years.

Because of the expanded food and beverage offers at stores, fueling customers also are going inside the store more: 42 percent of those fueling up also went inside the store, a 7-point jump from two years ago, according to the survey. For those going inside, the most popular reasons were to pay for gas at the register (50 percent), buy a beverage (45 percent) or buy a snack (36 percent). Overall, 8 percent say they bought a sandwich or meal, and that percentage jumps to 13 percent for younger consumers ages 18 to 34.

“The numbers clearly show the growing trend of consumers seeking out food and beverages as part of their fueling experience,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. “While retailers know they need to aggressively compete on gas prices — 67 percent of Americans say they will drive five minutes out of their way to save five cents per gallon — it also shows that there are other ways to compete for customers with a quality in-store offer.”

Others findings from the survey results include:

For those purchasing a sandwich or meal, 56 percent say they eat in in their car, compared to 34 percent who eat it once they arrive at their destination and 10 percent who eat at tables in the store.

Drivers expect that gas prices will increase throughout 2017. They predict that prices will be $2.84 at year’s end, a 52-cent increase from prices on Jan. 1.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed Jan. 4-6.