You are here
Consumers are shopping at convenience stores more often, especially in the morning for a wide variety of reasons, from purchasing hot beverages and lottery tickets to filling up their gas tanks for the day ahead.
In fact, findings from the exclusive Convenience Store News 2015 Realities of the Aisle consumer research study reveal that morning customers just might be the most important customers for convenience store retailers to please.
Consumers who shop at convenience stores between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.:
- Shop c-stores more frequently than shoppers at any other time of the day;
- Typically shop for beverages and gasoline;
- Are among the most likely daypart shoppers to buy prepared food at a c-store; and
- Typically shop c-stores while traveling to/from work or running errands.
For the second consecutive year, the annual CSNews Realities of the Aisle consumer research study was conducted by Carbonview Research, a custom, primary market research and analysis firm owned by CSNews’ parent company Stagnito Business Information.
Electronic interviews were conducted with 1,500 consumers who shop at a convenience store at least once a month. The survey asked c-store shoppers how often they shopped, why they shopped, when they shopped, what they purchased and how much they spent.
In addition to demographic information highlighting shopping behavior by gender, income, presence of children in the household, region of the country and age, this year’s study also breaks out key insights related to the time of day consumers shop c-stores.
Although 55 percent of surveyed shoppers said they visit c-stores between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 a.m., 53 percent of respondents said they shop between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and 64 percent shop between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. So clearly, there are also opportunities for c-stores to increase their business during other dayparts besides the morning hours.
Evening shoppers (between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.), for example, shop a c-store more frequently than the average c-store shopper, according to the study. Evening shoppers also purchase more beverages, particularly cold and frozen dispensed drinks, cigarettes, prepared food, candy and gum, and snacks than the average c-store purchaser.
Let’s look deeper at how consumers responded to CSNews’ 2015 Realities of the Aisle survey:
■ How Often Do You Shop at a Convenience Store?
On average, 57 percent of surveyed shoppers said they visit a c-store several times a week. That figure goes up to 61 percent for male shoppers, compared to 52 percent for female shoppers.
Almost one out of five said they shop a c-store almost every day, an increase from 11 percent a year ago. Shopping frequency among those who shop two or three times a week also jumped, increasing to 38 percent from 31 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, the percentage of less frequent shoppers (two or three times a month, about once a month and less than once a month) declined across the board.
Men are more likely to shop c-stores almost every day than women (22 percent vs. 15 percent, respectively). Thirty-nine percent of men said they shop c-stores two or three times a week, compared with 36 percent of women shoppers.
When it comes to income, 22 percent of shoppers earning $75,000 to $99,999 a year said they shop a c-store almost every day. This figure is the highest of all the income segments.
More frequent c-store shoppers also tend to have children in the household. Sixty-nine percent of shoppers with children went to a c-store several times a week. Forty-three percent of shoppers with children went to a c-store two or three times a week.
By age, 68 percent of shoppers aged 25–34 said they shopped several times a week, compared with 65 percent of those aged 35–44 and 61 percent of those aged 45–54. Almost half of all shoppers (48.5 percent) aged 18–25 said they shopped several times a week at a c-store.
■ Do You Typically Shop at the Same Convenience Store Each Time?
Almost seven out of 10 respondents said they are loyal to a particular c-store. That loyalty is lowest, though, among higher income consumers — only 60 percent of shoppers making $100,000 or more per year said they typically shop the same c-store each time.
■ For What Reasons Do You Typically Shop a Convenience Store?
The top two reasons to visit a c-store are for beverages and gasoline. Typically, 73 percent are shopping at a convenience store for beverages and 69 percent shop at convenience stores to buy gasoline.
Forty-one percent cited a fountain or frozen dispensed beverage. Thirty-nine percent cited a packaged beverage like a soda or fruit drink, and 35 percent said they went for a hot beverage like coffee. Buying beverages is a particular strong motivation for shoppers aged 25–34, with 83 percent of this age group citing beverages as their reason for shopping a c-store.
■ On What Occasions Do You Typically Shop a Convenience Store?
About 45 percent of c-store shoppers said they typically make special trips to the convenience store from home. That’s almost as many as those who say they shop c-stores while running other errands (55 percent), while traveling to and from work or school (55 percent), and while traveling for pleasure (51 percent)
Women (59 percent) are more likely than men (53 percent) to shop at a convenience store while running errands. Lower income consumers (62 percent) are also more likely to shop at a convenience store while running errands. Higher income consumers (67 percent) are most likely to shop while traveling to/from work or school.
From a daypart perspective, evening shoppers between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. (63 percent) were most likely to make special trips to the c-store compared with those who shop at other times of the day (35 percent).
■ At What Times of Day Do You Typically Shop at Convenience Stores?
The most popular three-hour shopping period for c-store consumers overall is the 4 p.m. to 6:59 p.m. dinner time (cited by 52 percent of surveyed shoppers). Other popular shopping periods are 2 p.m. to 3:59 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 1:59 p.m. (both at 35 percent), and late night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and early morning from 6 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. (at 34 percent each).
Men were the chief shoppers from 6 a.m. to 8:59 a.m., while women and younger shoppers (aged 18–24) were dominant from 2 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.
■ Which Products Have You Purchased at a Convenience Store in the Past Month?
After gasoline (purchased by 79 percent of shoppers), the most-often purchased products in the past month were candy/gum (67 percent), prepared food (61 percent), canned/bottled soda (52 percent), salty snacks (46 percent), hot beverage (41 percent), beer (40 percent), lottery tickets (39 percent), cigarettes (38 percent), fountain drink (37 percent), bottled water (36 percent) and packaged sweet snacks (33 percent).
■ Which Elements Influenced Your Decision to Visit a Convenience Store?
While word-of-mouth was cited most often by consumers (15 percent), an equal percentage of consumers cited radio/television advertising or a coupon (both 11 percent).
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were cited by only 8 percent of shoppers. However, younger shoppers cited social media at a much higher rate than the average. For example, 13 percent of 18- to 24 year-olds, 17 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, and even 10 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds cited social media as the reason they visited a convenience store.