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ALEXANDRIA, Va. — More than one-quarter of Americans (27 percent) plan to take more time for vacation trips this summer, with 86 percent of these vacationers saying they will travel by car — excellent news for convenience store retailers, according to a new consumer survey conducted by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing.
Among the 1,105 gas consumers surveyed by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC on behalf of NACS from May 5-7, affordability was cited as the top reason for traveling by car. Sixty-one percent of respondents who intend to travel by car cited affordability, a 7-percent increase compared to 2014, when gas prices were approximately $1 per gallon higher.
Freedom to choose where to stop was cited by 59 percent of those stating they will travel by car this summer, also a 7-percent jump.
Once consumers do stop, c-stores are certain to benefit. Three-quarters (76 percent) of vacationers on the road this summer plan to stop to use the bathroom; 69 percent expect to get gas; and 67 percent expect to get food or drinks, reported NACS.
More than half of all drivers said they will stop at a specific store based on gas prices. However, 44 percent of respondents placed an emphasis on quality food options, a rise of 5 percent vs. 2014, and 39 percent cited cleanliness/bathrooms as the top reason to visit a specific store, a 3-percent increase year over year.
“Consumers increasingly want to go beyond the gas pump” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard. “What we are seeing is Americans are seeking out stores that are more appealing inside with fresh food and an emphasis on cleanliness.”
Looking at demographics, drivers aged 18 to 34 are most likely to visit c-stores this summer, according to the NACS survey. Seventy-eight percent of consumers surveyed in this age group expect to purchase a snack while traveling this summer; 74 percent plan to buy a drink; 73 percent will use the bathroom; and 40 percent will buy a sandwich or meal.
ATM usage is also expected to be popular among this young demographic. More than one quarter (26 percent) of those in this age group traveling this summer said they will use an ATM on their trip.
Alexandria-based NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,600 supplier member companies, which do business in 50 countries.