GasBuddy finds Friday busiest day for buying gas

(October 24, 2019) BOSTON — GasBuddy has released its third quarterly study examining foot traffic in the $654 billion fuel and convenience retailing industry across the United States. This analysis examined more than 24 million consumer visits between July 1 - Sept. 30, 2019, providing actionable insights into consumer behavior and the factors that influence foot traffic.

Key findings — Friday is the busiest day for refueling, afternoon and early evening is busiest time, more people are eating lunch at convenience stores than ever.

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 (1,000 or more locations), Washington-based Costco (250-999 locations), Kentucky-based Thorntons (50-249 locations), and Indiana-based Ricker’s (30-49 locations).

Newcomer Fred Meyer (50-249 locations) ranked eighth on the list of the top 10 brands with the highest foot traffic in their respective number-of-location segments.

“Visits to gas station convenience stores remained consistent quarter-over-quarter, with consumers stopping for much more than a tank of gas on their end-of-summer drives,” says Frank Beard, convenience store trends analyst at GasBuddy.

“And with the most visits occurring during lunchtime, midday and early afternoon continue to be a big opportunity for brands to capture the hungry on-the-go crowd with relevant, fresh in-store offerings and excellent customer service.”

Key study highlights include:

Meet me for lunch at the gas station

Watch out quick-service restaurants: today’s convenience stores are aiming to eat you for lunch. While the morning gas station coffee run has long been an American routine, the busiest hours during Q3 were all in the afternoon and early evening — highlighting the growing trend of convenience stores owning the lunch daypart.

Costco narrowly retains the top stop

Washington-based Costco (250 - 999 locations) again captured the most foot traffic per station of any brand in any segment — nearly four times the industry average with a score of 3.98. It was a close call, however,  as Kentucky-based Thorntons (50 - 249) locations followed with a score of 3.90 . Other segment winners include Ohio-based Speedway (1,000+ locations) and Indiana-based Ricker’s, (30 - 49 locations) which overtook longtime segment winner, Texas-based Buc-ee’s.

Fridays are the busiest for fueling

Friday was the busiest day for fuel and convenience retailers in Q3 with 15.61% of weekly visits. However, the spread between the busiest and slowest days was only 2.66 percentage points—a sign that today’s retailers are meeting customer needs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Kroger wins the most states

Ohio-based Kroger again captured the highest average footfall in seven states. Wawa came in a close second with five states, and Cumberland Farms and Costco tied with four wins each. Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip came in fifth by winning all three states in which they operate.

If they see it, they will come

Today’s customers demand that retailers meet their needs for cleanliness, hospitality, and especially safety. More than 2 million individual station ratings were submitted by GasBuddies during Q3, and stations with above-average outdoor lighting ratings drove 16.54% more visits than their below-average counterparts.