US consumers are increasingly seeking out fuelling locations based on the quality of the food, according to a survey by the US National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
The survey results show that while fuel 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. In fact, one in seven drivers say the in-store offer is driving their fuelling decision, a five-point increase since 2015.
A majority (51 per cent) of US drivers still say the gas price is the reason they prefer a specific store or chain, but that is a six-point drop over the past two years.
Because of the expanded food and beverage offers at stores, fuelling customers are also going inside the store more: 42 per cent of those fuelling up also went inside the store, a seven-point jump from two years ago. For those going inside, the most popular reasons were to pay for gas at the register (50 per cent), buy a drink (45 per cent) or buy a snack (36 per cent). More than one in five (22 per cent) say they used the toilet. Overall, eight per cent say they bought a sandwich or meal, and that percentage jumps to 13 per cent for younger consumers ages 18-34 years.
“The numbers clearly show the growing trend of consumers seeking out food and beverages as part of their fuelling experience,” NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard said.
“While retailers know they need to aggressively compete on gas prices – 67 per cent 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.”
The survey results were released as part of the 2016 NACS Retail Fuels Report, which examines conditions and trends that could affect fuel prices.