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HOUSTON -- Higher gasoline prices caused a decline in consumer traffic to convenience stores in the second quarter, according to research conducted by the NPD Group. Convenience store traffic declined by 4 percent compared to same quarter year ago, according to NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks consumer purchasing behavior by more than 51,000 c-store shoppers in the United States.
Given the higher prices at the pump, price of fuel and availability of gas fell precipitously as purchase drivers for convenience store shoppers in the second quarter, the market research firm reported.
Traffic declines were steeper for major oil and small independent chains, down 7 percent, vs. traditional convenience stores where traffic was down 1 percent.
Convenience store shoppers made up for their decrease in visits by spending more when they did shop, according to the Convenience Store Monitor. Sales improved by 2 percent due to an increase in the average check, as well as growing purchase incidence in some key categories.
"An uncertain economy, along with rising gas and food prices, have put already cost-conscious consumers in an even more frugal mode," said David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD’s convenience store research. "Consumers today want the most out of every dollar they spend, and the price/value equation is foremost in their minds."