Blame the weather and rising gas prices for the decline in visits to convenience stores in the first quarter of 2014, according to The NPD Group. Traffic to convenience stores decreased by 3.5% in the first three months of the year compared to same period last year, reports NPD’s convenience store research.
The good news is that those who did visit convenience stores in the winter purchased slightly more (1.4%) fuel and products than in the same quarter last year, finds NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor, which continually tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of approximately 50,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S.
Loyalty was also a benefactor of the severe winter weather, which discouraged consumers from making multiple stops. The first quarter of 2014 showed a 2.2% increase in consumers stating they typically visit one convenience store whereas multi-chain user visits declined by 2.6%. To further show the importance of loyalty, 9% of consumers, 2% points more than same quarter last year, chose convenience store chains because of a rewards or loyalty program.
In addition to building customer loyalty, the importance of product selection and quality was apparent in the early months of the year, according to NPD. There was a 3.4% increase in consumers choosing a convenience store chain based on its product selection, and a 1.6% increase in selecting a chain based on its product quality. Food prepared on site also had gains (2.4%) as a reason to visit a specific convenience store chain.
“Aside from the adverse effects of the weather on traffic, the first quarter shed light on the continuing importance of loyalty, product selection and quality, and foodservice to convenience store consumers,” said April Moffa, NPD convenience store industry analyst. “Time will tell in the quarters ahead whether or not visits will improve.”
At least 35.4% of U.S. adults are Store Loyal Shoppers, and this includes convenience stores. According to AudienceSCAN, this audience skews female (55.5%). Nearly half, 45.3%, of these consumers drive their own vehicle to work, making them an ideal target for a c‑store promotion. In the past year, about 56% of this audience recalled seeing an outdoor or billboard ad that caused them to take action.
AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.