In a recent poll conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), respondents reported more fresh food items and discounts on gas purchases in 2013 as compared to 2012.
An increase in fresh food options, such as fruit and salads, as well as prepared foods, were observed in convenience stores by 11% and 20% of the survey’s respondents, respectively. Roughly 15% of respondents said they noticed that stores were more aesthetically pleasing due to interior changes.
"Gas prices will always be top of mind with consumers," said Jeff Lenard, president of strategic industry initiatives at NACS. "But many are looking beyond the price and selecting where to stop based on what's inside the store."
The survey also questioned respondents about their perceptions of gas prices in 2013 as compared to 2012. More than half of respondents – 56% – said prices were noticeably different in 2013 as compared to 2012, either cheaper or more expensive depending upon the region in which they resided. More than one in four Midwesterners said the price at the pump was more affordable in December versus the same time in 2012, while 45% of Southerners said December 2013’s prices were higher.
Consumers also observed convenience stores that offered opportunities for them to save at the pump. Nearly two-thirds of respondents witnessed more stores offering loyalty cards that translated to savings on gas. Additionally, approximately 18% were charged lower prices when they purchased gas with cash instead of credit.
Alternative fuel options were also more apparent in 2013, as 8% of respondents said they saw more convenience stores offering diesel fuel and 7% observed the use of alternative fuels like natural gas and E85.