Peak Visit Times at Convenience Stores Vary Depending on Level of Consumer Usage

Morning and evening commutes are a peak time for super heavy users of convenience stores to visit, while moderate and light users tend to visit more during the evening commute, according to convenience store (c‑store) research by The NPD Group, a leading market research company. 

NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S., identifies super heavy users as those who visit c‑stores an average of 22.0 times a month, heavy users visiting 9.6 times a month, moderate shoppers visiting 5.0 times a month and light users with 1.9 times a month.

Super heavy and heavy shoppers typically have blue collar occupations and are 35–54 years old; Moderate shoppers are slightly more likely to be between 55 and 64 and slightly more likely to have incomes between $45K and $75K. Light c‑store shoppers skew younger at 18–24, and older at 65 years-​old or more and are more likely to be students or retired from the workforce.

According to NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, super heavy users have the highest incidence of visits during the morning and evening commutes (5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., respectively). Super heavy users tend to purchase coffee, carbonated soft drinks, and newspapers or magazines in the morning and are more likely to purchase cigarettes or tobacco products, lottery tickets, and alcoholic beverages in the evening.

A quarter of heavy c‑store consumers visit c‑stores during the evening commute while one in five visit c‑stores during the morning commute. These shoppers tend to buy sweet snacks in the morning and cigarettes and alcoholic beverages in the evening. Dairy products are popular during prime time with heavy c‑store shoppers.

Evening commute is a popular day segment for moderate and light c‑store shoppers. Light shoppers are more likely than average to purchase frozen/​slushy drinks and water during the evening commute. Slightly more than half of both light and moderate c‑store shoppers make product only purchases and are less likely to purchase products on sale than their super heavy and heavy shopper counterparts.

"The amount of traffic and dollars attributed to higher frequency groups continues to distinguish their importance to the industry as a whole," says David Portalatin, convenience store analyst at NPD. "However, opportunities exist to convert light and moderate to more visits and food and snack purchases."

[Source:  Convenience Store Monitor.  The NPD Group.  22 Mar. 2011.  Web.  23 Mar. 2011.]