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JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- How much income a consumer earns each year does have an impact on their shopping habits at convenience stores, but not in the way one might think. You would assume the higher the income, the higher the spend, but that doesn't hold true in the c-store realm.
Low-income consumers frequent c-stores more often than high-income shoppers and when they do, they spend more, according to Convenience Store News' 2013 Realities of the Aisle consumer study.
As bonus content in conjunction with our Consumer Insights Special Edition, which was published this month, CSNews examines the differences in how low-, middle- and high-income consumers shop convenience stores.
Low Income (less than $35,000 a year)
- Tend to shop more often at convenience stores than higher-income households.
- 14.5 percent shop almost every day.
- Typically shop c-stores for cigarettes and food to consume at home.
- High percentages shop mid-day, from 11 a.m. to 6:59 p.m., and late night, after 10 p.m.
- More than 30 percent say they are spending less at c-stores due to the nation’s poor economic conditions.
- In the past month, they purchased the following items more often than the average: canned/bottled soda, packaged salty snacks, cigarettes, cigars/snuff/chewing tobacco, grocery items, fresh produce, frozen food and phone cards.
- Heavy users of the following c-store services: ATMs, DVD rental, money orders, check cashing and video games.
- Average spent at last c-store visit: $12.91. (Average for all income groups was $12.87.)
- Median spent at last c-store visit: $7. (Median for all income groups was $6.50.)
Middle Income ($35,000 to $75,000 a year)
- Tend to shop convenience stores two to three times a week.
- Typically shop c-stores for gas, lottery tickets and cigarettes.
- Lower-middle income also adversely impacted by the economy, with more than 30 percent of those earning $35,000 to $49,000 spending less due to economic conditions.
- In the past month, they purchased the following items more often than the average consumer: lottery tickets, hot beverages, bottled water and beer/malt beverages.
- Heavy users of the following c-store services: car wash and DVD rental.
- Average spent at last c-store visit: $11.70 to $14.49.
- Median spent at last c-store visit: $6 to $7.45.
High Income (more than $75,000 a year)
- Largest percentage of these consumers (30.3 percent) shop c-stores about once a week.
- High percentage shop during the early morning hours of 6 a.m. to 10:59 a.m.
- Majority of the upper-middle income and high income say the economy has had no impact on their c-store spending.
- In the past month, they purchased the following items more often than the average: fountain beverages, packaged salty snacks, hot beverages, bottled water, prepared food, energy/nutrition bars, fresh produce, phone cards and liquor.
- Heavy users of car washes at c-stores.
- Average spent at last c-store visit: $13.69 ($75,000-$99,999); $12.29 ($100,000-plus).
- Median spent at last c-store visit: $6.
For more consumer insights, click here to read the full Convenience Store News Consumer Insights Special Edition.