Americans — Particularly Midwesterners — to Travel More This Summer

Americans plan to travel more frequently this summer, according to the results of a consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).  One in four consumers (25%) say that they will spend more money this summer than they would otherwise because of the harsh winter weather, as opposed to 16% who say that they will spend less money. Consumers in the Midwest are most likely to spend more money this summer, with one in three consumers (33%) saying that they will spend more money than otherwise expected this summer.

Convenience store owners also are optimistic about summer spending, with most saying that they expect sales to increase at both the pump and inside the store.

"We expect to see sales up at least 8% to 10% over last summer's numbers, and we will be back to pre-​recession sales numbers before the end of 2014," said Theron Soderlund, president of TMS Enterprises, which operates the Country Corner convenience store on Orcas Island, WA.

Convenience stores sell 80% of the gas purchased in the country and will see plenty of traffic at the gas pumps this summer, especially when the weather is nice. Store owners surveyed by NACS said that weather conditions are the best determinant of sales, with two of three calling it important. The economy was the second-​most important factor affecting sales, cited by nearly half of all retailers.

"People are tired of waiting on the economy to improve, but there are positive signs that it is improving," said Sonja Hubbard, CEO of Texarkana, TX-​based E‑Z Mart Stores Inc. Sales also may be enhanced by more hours of daylight, which Hubbard said is a significant factor that drives strong summer sales.

Americans are expected to average more than two summer vacation trips of at least two nights away from home, and the bulk of this travel will be by car. More than 8 in 10 consumers (84%) say that they will drive for a summer vacation.

While gas prices are near highs for the year, consumers see driving as cost effective. A majority half of consumers (54%) cite affordability as the reason to travel by car, followed by the freedom to choose where to stop (52%).

Fully half of all consumers (50%) say that the gas price influences where they stop on their summer vacations, but they also are influenced by in-​store offers. Four in 10 consumers (39%) say that seek out quality food options for stops, and 36% say that they seek out stores that have clean bathrooms.  In addition, to capture more summer sales, retailers are particularly focusing on new deli programs, cookouts, fresh fruits and expanded beverage options.

According to Ad-​ology Research, domestic travelers are more likely than the average consumer to enjoy leisure activities such as tailgating before sporting events or shopping for fine art/​antiques.  This audience is also 71% more likely than the average consumer to purchase and use a Daily Deal voucher for a business they have never used/​shopped at previously.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-​ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.