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Fridays are the Busiest at the Pump, According to GasBuddy’s 2018 Annual Foot Traffic Report

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Costco captured the most foot traffic per station of any fuel brands; Speedway, Thorntons lead respective segments

Memorial Day beat out Thanksgiving as “busiest travel weekend,” saw largest uplift in traffic across all retail categories compared to all other holiday weekends

For drivers looking to fill up their tanks before a big weekend, they may want to consider filling up earlier in the week to avoid the lines. That’s according to our annual report examining foot traffic throughout 2018 in the $600 billion convenience store and fuel retailing industry released today.

The report found that consumers frequented gas stations the most during the end of the week — Friday, Saturday, and Thursday. Contrary to the popular ‘morning coffee run’, people most frequently visited gas stations on Fridays between noon and 5 p.m., staying an average of 7 minutes per visit.

Costco captured the most foot traffic per station of any brand in any segment — more than five times the industry average in 2018.

“It is now confirmed that filling up at Costco on a Friday afternoon is the worst idea ever unless you enjoy waiting in line,” says Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy. “While it’s not shocking that Thanksgiving and Christmas had their share of increased retail visits, Memorial Day weekend saw the highest uplift in foot traffic across all categories, including hotels, auto rental, restaurants and coffee shops, making it the best opportunity for retailers to excite customers with promotions and meaningful in-store experiences.”

Report Highlights Include:

Costco Claims the Top Spot in 2018
Washington-based Costco (250 – 999 locations) captured the most foot traffic per station of any brand in any segment—more than five times the industry average in 2018. Other annual segment winners include Ohio-based Speedway (1,000+ locations), Kentucky-based Thorntons (50 – 249 locations), and Indiana-based Ricker’s (30 – 49 locations). Ricker’s was recently acquired by GetGo—another top-performer. (#5 in the 50 – 249 locations)

Fueling on Fridays
Friday was the busiest day for fuel and convenience retailers in 2018, followed by Saturday (2) and Thursday (3). Friday at noon and 5 p.m. Saturday at 4 p.m., Friday at 3 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m. round out the top five busiest times.

Memorial Day Weekend #1 Holiday for Retailers
Examining the major driving holidays of 2018 including Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas, Memorial Day saw the most uplift in foot traffic across fuel and convenience (45%) as well as other major on-the-go retail categories, including hotels (100%), auto rental (40%), quick service restaurants (35%), casual dining (33%) and coffee shops (38%).

Pilot and Wawa Tie for #1 in the Most States
Two brands, Pilot and Wawa, tied for the number one spot by achieving the highest average foot traffic in five states. Costco and Cumberland Farms came in a close second with four wins, and Kroger and Speedway round out third by winning three.

Customer Service: Love it or Hate it
Whether it’s good or bad, customer service makes an impression. Less than five percent (4.91%) of GasBuddies’ written reviews for customer service were neutral, while reviews with positive or negative sentiment comprised the remaining 95 percent. This also has an impact on consumer foot traffic. In 2018, fuel and convenience retailers with above-average customer service ratings attracted 25 percent more foot traffic than their below-average counterparts.

See the full report here.

Methodology
From Jan 1 – Dec 31, 2018, we analyzed anonymous, aggregated location visit data at more than 100 fuel and convenience store brands and retail locations across the United States to understand foot traffic trends, provide geo-behavioral and consumer insights, and identify the impact of key factors such as ratings and reviews on POI visits. To be considered a “visit,” a user must be within 30 meters of a fuel pump for between 2 and 30 minutes.

GasBuddy is a company that connects drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop. As the leading source for crowdsourced, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the U.S., Canada and Australia, millions of drivers use the GasBuddy app and website every day to find gas station convenience stores based on fuel prices, location and ratings/reviews. GasBuddy’s first-of-its-kind fuel savings program, Pay with GasBuddy, has saved Americans more than $6 million at the pumps since its launch in 2017.