GasBuddy report finds customers are spending more time in c-stores, while lunch draws increased foot traffic.
GasBuddy has released its Q3 foot traffic report, identifying U.S. c-store chains drawing the most foot traffic, as well as recent trends.
According to the report, average dwell time shot up 14% quarter over quarter, with consumers spending an additional minute on the property. Additionally, the report found that consumers frequented gas stations the most during lunch hours — fuel and convenience stores saw daily peak traffic times shift specifically to 12 p.m. from later afternoon hours in Q2.
“Summer months have historically been a busy time for gas stations, however, what is unique is the increase in the amount of time spent per visit, proving that gas stations go far beyond fuel,” said Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy. “While the size of car tank remains relatively the same, what’s happening inside the store has gotten more robust, including food options that can compete with quick-service restaurants.”
Brands who received the most foot traffic per station in their respective categories retained their top spots from Q2 to Q3, including Ohio-based Speedway (1,000+ locations), Washington-based Costco (250 – 999 locations), Kentucky-based Thorntons (50 – 249 locations) and Indiana-based Ricker’s (30 – 49 locations).
Other highlights include:
Wawa and Pilot Tie for No. 1 in the Most States: Claiming the highest average footfall in five states, Wawa once again shares the top spot—although it now does so with Pilot, who expanded their team by 5,000 additional employees over the summer. Previous winner Cumberland Farms falls to second place with Costco, each claiming wins in four states. Speedway once again secures a close third with three states.
Lunchtime Brings In Customers: With foodservice being called the industry’s “biggest opportunity” with 22.5% of in-store sales, lunchtime (12 p.m.) was the busiest time of the day overall for fuel and convenience brands in Q3, claiming 8% of visits. Fridays at 12 p.m. saw the most foot traffic, followed by Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 12 p.m., all prime times for foodservice sales.
Long Weekends Great for Gas Stations: Similar to Memorial Day Weekend, Labor Day travel resulted in increased foot traffic across a variety of retail sectors and related industries. Fuel and convenience retailers that saw significant uplift in foot traffic between Aug. 31 and Sept 3 include BP (30%), Phillips 66 (27%) and Murphy USA (26%).
Great Employees Sell More: Gas stations and convenience stores with above-average customer service ratings experienced 32% more visits than their below-average counterparts. Similar correlations were observed with ratings for outdoor lighting, cleanliness, and overall customer experience.
From July 1 to Sept. 30, 2018, GasBuddy analyzed location visit data at more than 100 fuel and convenience store brands across the United States to understand foot traffic trends, provide geo-behavioral and consumer insights, and identify the impact of key factors such as ratings and reviews on POI visits. To be considered a “visit,” a user must be within 30 meters of a fuel pump for between two and 30 minutes.