Younger Generations Fuel Convenience Store Growth

A new GasBuddy survey found that 74% of 18 to 44 year-olds buy something at a c-store monthly.

May 08, 2019

BOSTON— A new GasBuddy survey asks, “What Retail Apocalypse?” The study found that 18 to 44 year- olds prefer shopping at c-stores for their packaged goods over drug and warehouse stores, with 74% making purchases at c-stores at least once a month.
Convenience stores beat out drug and warehouse stores when consumers were asked where they prefer to purchase their packaged good items like snacks and beverages. The 18- to 29-year-old age group has the strongest preference for c-stores versus all other age groups.
According to the survey, 66% of respondents said they make purchases at a convenience store at least once a month, while 38% said at least once a week. The most popular items that consumers “often” or “very often” purchase at a c-store are sweet snacks (55%), beverages (52%) and salty snacks (52%).
“The original on-demand commerce, c-stores are in the business of selling time, making it the first-mile and last-mile choice for millions of Americans,” said Frank Beard, convenience store analyst for GasBuddy. “It’s no surprise that they're meeting the needs of younger generations who crave ease and immediacy.”
While the pit stops may be intentional, in-store purchases are often not. Twenty four percent of consumers said they made an unplanned in-store purchase the last time they stopped for gas, while 57% said they have done so within the past month. In fact, GasBuddy’s footfall traffic shows that the average visit by their users to a gas station has grown to nearly 8 minutes, far exceeding the two to three minutes it takes to fill up the car.
Store owners are now faced with new challenges to stock products that appeal to a wide base; there are now more food and snack options at a gas station than ever before. When asked what the triggers are to make a purchase at a gas station convenience store, more than 30% of respondents said simply because “I’m already there.”
“More than ever, snack and beverage brands need to be top-of-mind for consumers before they visit. Otherwise they’ll get lost in the crowd,” said Beard.