Holiday Travelers Stock Up on Ice, Drinks

With 47 million+ Americans traveling for Independence Day, c-stores are stocking the refreshments they crave.

July 02, 2021

Patriotic Ice Cooler on the Beach

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—As the national economy continues to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, Americans are hitting the road and skies in droves: More than 47 million will travel this Independence Day weekend, according to AAA.

More than 91% of holiday travel will be by car this weekend as prices for gasoline are at their highest since 2014, with the national average expected to remain above $3 per gallon, AAA said. A projected 43.6 million Americans will drive to their destinations, the highest on record for this Independence Day holiday and 5% more than the previous record set in 2019. This year’s Independence Day holiday weekend is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.

“With travelers eager to hit the road this summer, we’re expecting nationwide traffic volumes to increase about 15% over normal this holiday weekend. Drivers around major metro areas must be prepared for significantly more delay,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst, INRIX.

Theme parks in Orlando, Florida, and southern California, as well destinations in Denver, Las Vegas, Seattle, Chicago and New York, top AAA’s list of Independence Day destinations this year.

It wouldn’t be a road trip without a stop for gas and snacks, drinks and other refreshment, though, so convenience stores are prepping for heavy traffic, both at the pump and in the store. What are travelers reaching for to fuel their trips? According to Paytronix, holiday travelers who stop at a c-store to fuel up are more likely to buy ice, beer and lottery tickets over the weekend.

Compared to the average weekday or weekend, ice sales rise by 25% during holiday weekends, Patronix said. Lottery tickets and alcohol also enjoy bumps of 8% and 6%, respectively.

The top items purchased in convenience stores throughout the year include prepared food, packaged beverages, cigarettes and other tobacco products, hot dispensed beverages, salty snacks, candy, beer, and frozen and cold dispensed beverages, NACS State of the Industry data show.

In the forecourt though, fuel supplies remains a concern this weekend, with shortages being possible due to the lack of tanker drivers.  Read “Trucker Shortage Hits Home” and “Higher Pay for the Long Haul” for more on what is causing delays in deliveries to retailers.

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