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    Retailers Embrace Technology for Price Signs

    Nationwide, gas retailers are embracing digital price signage at the pumps.

    NEW YORK -- As gas prices around the nation escalate to well above $3 per gallon, gas retailers are tossing the plastic numbers that display the price per gallon at the gas island, and instead, installing high-tech electronic signs to quickly respond to the changing gas prices, reported USA Today.

    The signs, featuring internal scrolling numbers or high-intensity colored lights, can reduce the time it takes to switch prices to mere minutes, the report stated.

    "Price changes are almost a daily thing, and with the volatility of the prices, you need to be more responsive," Rob Rinehart, director of gasoline trading for Royal Farms, told USA Today. In addition, manual signs can cause delays or compromise employees' safety, he added. Royal Farms plans to convert all 80 of its stations in the Mid-Atlantic to electronic signs by the end of this year.

    Meanwhile, 7-Eleven plans to invest in 308 electronic displays for its stores by the end of 2007.

    "We can react more quickly to what happens in the market because we're constantly doing price checks against the competition," Margaret Chabris, a 7-Eleven spokeswoman, told USA Today.

    In Pennsylvania, Rutter's Farm Stores President and CEO Scott Hartman converted his 46 of stores to electronic signs, according to the report.

    Station owners are spending anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 on the digital signage, according to Greg Stadjuhar, vice president of sales and marketing for the Colorado Springs-based Skyline Products, manufacturer of digital price signs.

    Stadjuhar said a standard electronic sign averages between $7,000 and $8,000. The most expensive signs, at $50,000, are the billboard-size electronic displays.

    "The price on the street drives so much of [store's] volume in-store or out of store, and it will make or break them," Stadjuhar told USA Today.

    For an in-depth look at the digital price signage systems used by retailers such as Kwik Trip, Alon USA and Wawa, look in Convenience Store News' May 7 issue.

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