Historically when gas prices rise, convenience store visits decline and history held true in the second quarter of 2011 when, due to rising gas prices, convenience store traffic declined by 4 percent compared to same quarter year ago, according to convenience store research by The NPD Group, a leading market research company. With higher gas prices at the pump, price of fuel and gas availability fell in the second quarter precipitously as purchase drivers for convenience store shoppers.
Based on reporting by NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S., traffic declines were steeper for major oil and small independent chains, down 7 percent, than at 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 by 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," says 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."