C-Stores Are Travel Destinations

Placer.ai highlighted Casey’s, Maverik, Buc-ee’s and Rutter’s as c-stores driving traffic growth.

April 25, 2024

While convenience stores have long been road trip staples, research shows that consumer perception of c-stores is changing—they are becoming places that “people go out of their way to visit,” Placer.ai reported in a recent whitepaper.

The foot traffic software company stated that between April 2023 and March 2024, convenience stores experienced consistent year-over-year growth, generally outperforming overall retail. In November and December, retail came out ahead with overall visits, likely heightened by holiday shoppers visiting malls and superstores, but c-stores quickly regained their foot traffic lead in January.

The whitepaper highlighted Casey’s, Maverik, Buc-ee’s and Rutter’s as leaders in the c-store space, noting their investments in product offerings and physical spaces as helping to “transform the humble c-store from a stop along the way into a bona fide destination.”

Placer.ai said that while chain expansion may explain some of the c-store traffic growth, visit-per-location trends show that demand has grown at the store level as well. Over the past year (April 2023 to March 2024), average visits per location on an industry-wide basis grew by 1.8%, compared to the year prior (April 2022 to 2023). 

Casey’s saw the average number of visits to each of its locations increase by 2.3% over the same time frame—while Maverik, Buc-ee’s and Rutter’s saw visits per location increase by 3.2%, 3.4% and 3.9%, respectively.

In the whitepaper, Placer.ai said that Casey’s and Maverik’s breakfast offerings are likely helping both retailers increase their share of morning visits. In Q1 2024, 16.3% of visits to Maverik and 17.5% of visits to Casey’s took place during the 7:00a.m - 10:00 a.m. daypart, compared to just 14.9% of visits to the wider c-store category.

Buc-ee’s, Placer.ai said, has emerged as a “well-known tourist attraction,” with its “unique array of food items and award-winning bathrooms” as well as its overall massive size. The whitepaper stated that the retailer attracts a greater share of visits on the weekend compared to other convenience retailers:  In Q1 2024, 39.6% of visits to Buc-ee’s took place on the weekends, compared to just 28.3% for the wider c-store industry.

Additionally, Buc-ee’s visits show that the retailer’s markets feature “higher-than-average shares of family-centric households.”

The whitepaper also highlighted Rutter’s as a retailer that is increasing visits and customer in-store dwell time by expanding its footprint—both in store count and venue size. According to Placer.ai, new Rutter’s locations will be 10,000 to 12,000 square feet, and in urban areas, the company will expand upwards.

In 2023, Rutter’s added a second floor to one of its existing locations in York, Pennsylvania. The remodel provided additional seating for up to 30 diners, a beer cave and an expanded wine selection. In Q1 2024, following the renovation, the location experienced 15.6% year-over-year visit growth—compared to a chainwide average of 7.6%. Visitors to the newly remodeled Rutter’s also stayed significantly longer than they did pre-renovation, Placer.ai reported. The share of extended visits to the store (longer than ten minutes) grew from 20.8% in Q1 2023 to 27.0% in Q1 2024.

Placer.ai recently also highlighted c-stores as a growing food destination, reporting that consumers are continuing to choose c-stores over other dining options.