One in four Americans (27%) say that they will take more time on vacation trips this summer, and 86% of these vacationers say that they will travel by car, according to new consumer survey results released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
Affordability is the top reason for vacationers to travel by car, cited by 61% of drivers. That’s up from 54% last summer when gas prices were just over $1 more per gallon, on average. Freedom to choose where to stop was cited by 59% of vacationers who intend to travel by car, up from 52% a year ago.
While more vacationers will be traveling by car, they also will be staying relatively close to home. Four in ten (42%) vacationers say that they will vacation within their state, up from 38% last year.
Regardless of the length of the trip, vacationers on the road this summer say they plan to stop along the way, whether to use the bathroom (76%), get gas (69%) or get food or drinks (67%) — and convenience stores will be a popular destination to fill these needs.
While more than half of all drivers (54%) say that they will select a specific store to stop based on the gas price, quality food options (44%, up from 39% in 2014) and cleanliness/bathrooms (39%, up from 36% in 2014) are both growing in importance for customers.
“Consumers increasingly want to go beyond the gas pump” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard, “What we are seeing is Americans are seeking out stores that are more appealing inside with fresh food and an emphasis on cleanliness.”
Drivers ages 18 to 34 are most likely to visit convenience stores on their vacations: 78% say that they will purchase a snack, 74% will buy a drink, 73% will use the bathroom, and 40% will buy a sandwich or meal. ATMs at convenience stores are also a draw; more than one in four (26%) of drivers ages 18 to 34 say they will use an ATM, and one in seven consumers overall (14%) say they will this summer.
Overall, more than nine in ten consumers (91%) say that low gas prices are good for the U.S. economy, the same percentage who indicated so in January 2015.
NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, annually surveys consumers about their summer drive plans. The NACS survey was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC; 1,105 gas consumers were surveyed May 5-7, 2015.