NACS survey: Americans say that low gas prices are good for the economy

New National Survey Also Finds That Prices Would Have to Increase to $3.37 per Gallon Before Consumers Begin to Curtail Driving

ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Apr-07 — /EPR Retail News/ — Americans overwhelmingly say that low gas prices are good for the economy and that gas prices would have to increase by more than $1 per gallon before they cut back on driving, according to results of the NACS Consumer Fuels Survey released today (4/6/2017).

Overall, 84% of consumers say that low gas prices are good for the economy, a 1-point drop from 2016, according to survey results announced by NACS, the association that represents convenience stores. Convenience stores sell an estimated 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States.

Americans also say that gas prices would have to increase to $3.37 per gallon before they reduce the amount they drive and reach $4.43 per gallon before they seek out alternatives to driving or drive drastically less.

“These findings are in line with what we traditionally find in our monthly surveys: Consumers say that prices have to increase by about a dollar per gallon from its current price before they consider cutting back. Gradual price increases also gradually push up the price at which they would drive less and it would take a sudden, unexpected price increase before most drivers would consider driving less,” said NACs Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

Gas prices tend to increase during the first few months of the year as the petroleum industry undergoes the spring transition to summer-blend fuel. This transition requires the production of unique fuel blends across the United States at a time of increased demand. Since 2000, this transition has led to an average price increase of 53 cents between early February and the seasonal peak, which most often occurs in late May.

By a more than two-to-one margin drivers understand the dynamics of the spring transition: 48% say that they agree that prices increase over the spring months because different fuel blends must be made and distributed for summer months. Only 21% disagree with that statement.

Other findings from the NACS survey include:

  • Consumers say that prices are more likely to increase because of world events as opposed to a local store trying to increase profits: 29% say OPEC is to blame when oil prices increase, compared to only 4% who blame gas stations.
  • A majority of Americans (57%) agree that most gas stations are small businesses evedn if they sell the fuel from a national brand. One in four Americans (26%) disagree with that statement. Overall, 58% of gas station in the United States are one-store operations.
  • Consumers say that convenience stores share their values: 66% agree that convenience stores share their values and do business the right way compared to 34% who disagree with that statement.
  • Consumers say that gas station profits are slim: 43% agree that gas stations make about 5 cents per gallon in profit, compared to 21% who disagree. Gross margins on fuel average about 20 cents per gallon and after expenses most retailers average about 5 cents per gallon in profit.

The survey results were released today as part of the 2016 NACS Retail Fuels Report (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices), which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices. The online resource is annually published to help demystify the retail fueling industry by exploring, among other topics, how fuel is sold, how prices affect consumer sentiment, why prices historically increase in the spring and which new fuels are likely to gain traction in the marketplace.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed January 4-6, 2017. NACS has surveyed consumers about their perceptions related to gas prices since 2007 and has conducted monthly consumer sentiment surveys since 2013.

NACS (nacsonline.com) advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 160 million customers daily — half of the U.S. population — and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and food service sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS: Americans seeking out fueling locations based on quality of food and beverages

New National Survey Shows Growing Trend of Consumers Seeking Out High-Quality Food and Beverages as Part of Fueling Experience

ALEXANDRIA, Va., 2017-Mar-30 — /EPR Retail News/ — Americans are increasingly seeking out fueling locations based on the quality of the food associated with the gas station, according to new national survey results released today (3/29/2017) by NACS. The association represents the convenience store industry, which sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the United States.

While survey results show that gas price is still the primary determinant in selecting a station, an increasing percentage of consumers say that the quality of items inside the store dictates where they buy fuel.  In fact, one in seven drivers (16%) say that the in-store offer is driving their fueling decision, a 5-point increase since 2015.

A majority (51%) of American drivers still say that the gas price is the reason that they prefer a specific store or chain, but that is a 6-point drop over the past two years.

Because of the expanded food and beverage offers at stores, fueling customers also are going inside the store more: 42% of those fueling up also went inside the store, a 7-point jump from two years ago. For those going inside, the most popular reasons were to pay for gas at the register (50%), buy a beverage (45%) or buy a snack (36%). More than one in five (22%) say they used the rest room. Overall, 8% say they bought a sandwich or meal, and that percentage jumps to 13% for younger consumers ages 18 to 34.

“The numbers clearly show the growing trend of consumers seeking out food and beverages as part of their fueling experience. While retailers know they need to aggressively compete on gas prices — 67% of Americans say they will drive 5 minutes out of their way to save 5 cents per gallon — it also shows that there are other ways to compete for customers with a quality in-store offer,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

Gasoline demand in 2016 reached a record 9.32 million barrels per day in 2016 but only 33% of American drivers report that they drove more in 2016. For those who say they drove more, 41% cited their job as the main reason, as opposed to only 8% who cited gas prices.

Others findings from the survey results include:

  • 73% of fuel customers pay by debit (37%) or credit (36%) card. Debit cards are most popular with younger consumers ages 18-34 (45%).
  • Evening rush is the most popular time to purchase fuel (36%), significantly more than morning rush (22%).
  • Nearly half (46%) of consumers say they have gotten a discount for their fuel by using a loyalty card or app and 23% have gotten a discount for paying by cash.
  • For those purchasing a sandwich or meal, 56% say they eat in in their car, compared to 34% who eat it once they arrive at their destination and 10% who eat at tables in the store.
  • Drivers expect that gas prices will increase throughout 2017. They predict that prices will be $2.84 at year’s end, a 52-cent increase from prices on January 1.

The survey results were released today as part of the 2016 NACS Retail Fuels Report (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices), which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices. The online resource is annually published to help demystify the retail fueling industry by exploring, among other topics, how fuel is sold, how prices affect consumer sentiment, why prices historically increase in the spring and which new fuels are likely to gain traction in the marketplace.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,114 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed January 4-6, 2017.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, conducts 160 million transactions a day, sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the country and had total sales of $575 billion in 2015. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: 77% of Americans favorable toward a new convenience store being opened in their area

ALEXANDRIA, VA , 2016-Oct-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — Nearly three in four (71%) Americans say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values and an even higher percentage (77%) say they would be “very” or “somewhat” favorable toward a new convenience store being opened in their area, according to a national consumer survey released today (10/18/2016) by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Younger consumers (ages 18-34) are overwhelmingly more favorable toward convenience stores than other age groups. More than 8 in 10 (82%) consumers ages 18-34 say that convenience stores are a good fit with their community’s values. And fully 90% say they are favorable to a new convenience store, and more than one in three (37%) say they would be “very favorable.” Consumers with children are also more favorable to new convenience stores than consumers without children—85% of consumers who have at least one child under the age of 18 living at home say they would be favorable to “to a new convenience store opening in their area and 36% say they would be “very favorable.”

Consumers favorable to new stores cited positive economic effects, such as more competition for local businesses and more jobs, while others say they could use another store closer to their homes for greater convenience. Those unfavorable to new stores say that stores “offering competition on local gas prices” (28%) and “becoming an outlet for fresh and healthy products” (19%) would help to make them more favorable to a new store opening in their area.

Nearly three in five (58%) Americans say there are “about the right amount” of convenience stores in their community, with the remainder evenly split between “too many stores” (21%) and “not enough stores” (21%). Consumers in suburban areas are least likely to say there are “not enough” stores in their area (16%) compared to urban consumers (21%). Rural consumers are most likely to say there are “not enough” stores (31%).

Overall, a majority of consumers say that they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store if that store participated in local community projects or donated to charitable causes (56%), up from the 51% who said the same in September 2015. Two in three (67%) consumers with children say they would be more likely to shop at a convenience store that contributed to local community or charitable causes.

Consumers Noticing the Trend Toward Healthy Options
Consumers are also more aware of the convenience store industry’s efforts to provide fresh, healthy food. Six in ten Americans (60%) agree that “convenience stores are responding to consumer demand, and are offering healthier, nutritious products and serving sizes.” Even higher percentages of consumers ages 18-34 (71%) and those with children (72%) agree that convenience stores are offering healthier choices.

More than one in three (35%) consumers say they have purchased more snacks considered “healthy choices” in the past year, but there is significant difference between genders in what they think about food at convenience stores. Women are more likely than men to say they have purchased more “healthy choices” in the past year (39% vs. 31%). However, more than two in three men (69%) agree that convenience stores “offer food I feel comfortable eating,” compared with three in five women (58%).

“Convenience stores are more closely tied to their local communities than any other retail channel and that’s something that consumers increasingly recognize—and reward,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,149 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed in August 2016.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, conducts 160 million transactions a day, sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the country and had total sales of $575 billion in 2015. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: Educational value were job benefits cited by Americans who worked in a convenience store

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-Oct-19 — /EPR Retail News/ — One in six American adults has worked in a convenience store, gas station or corner store, and they say that their job gave them valuable experience in how to work with people and how to run a business, according to a national consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Overall, 17% of adult Americans say that they have worked at a convenience store, gas station or corner store. Of that total, 91% say that they learned a lot about how to work with people, 86% say that the experience that they gained was valuable, 82% say that they learned about how businesses are run, and 71% say they would recommend this type of work to others, particularly as a first job.

Those who said the convenience store job was their first job are equally as positive about the experience: 83% say that the work experience was valuable and 74% say that the wages that they earned were consistent with their level of experience.

Educational value and flexible hours were job benefits cited by those who held a convenience store job in college: 90% say that they learned a lot about how businesses are run and 81% say that the job offered a flexible work schedule that allowed them to schedule work around other things in life.

Adult Americans who had never worked in a convenience store were equally positive about the job opportunities available at convenience stores. Overall, 85% of Americans who have never worked in the industry say that convenience stores are great summer jobs for high school or college students, and 83% say that convenience stores offer good first jobs for those looking to enter the workforce. Also, they see convenience store jobs as a potential path toward managing or owning a small business: More than two in three non-convenience store employees (71%) agree that it is common for workers who work hard to become managers or eventually own their own businesses.

“Convenience stores conduct more than 160 million customer transactions a day and fuel 80% of the vehicles on the roads today. None of this would be possible without the 2.5 million employees who serve busy Americans every day—and around the clock. These jobs also provide opportunities—whether to gain valuable business experience as you earn an income, or to eventually grow your own small business,” said NACS Vice President of Strategic Industry Initiatives Jeff Lenard.

The survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,111 U.S. adults who purchase fuel for a vehicle such as a car, truck or van at least once per month were surveyed in September 2016.

Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, conducts 160 million transactions a day, sells 80% of the fuel purchased in the country and had total sales of $575 billion in 2015. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.

Contact:

(703) 684-3600 (phone)
(703) 836-4564 (fax)

Source: NACS

NACS survey: 50% of Americans are optimistic about the economy due to sustained period of lower gas prices

ALEXANDRIA, VA, 2016-Mar-18 — /EPR Retail News/ — Fully half of all Americans (50%) say they are optimistic about the economy, a strong six-point jump over the past month and the highest percentage since November 2015, according to the results of a new consumer survey released today by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Two in three consumers (67%) ages 18-34 say that they are optimistic about the economy, a huge 15-point increase from a month ago. Fuel consumers in the Northeast (56% optimistic) and Midwest (54%) are more upbeat about the economy’s prospects than fuel consumers in the South (47%) and West (47%).

The sustained period of lower gas prices appears to finally be driving economic optimism higher. More than four in five consumers (83%) ages 18-34 say that gas prices affect their optimism. Higher optimism may also be contributing to an increase in driving: nearly one in four Americans (23%) say that they will drive more this month, compared to only 16% in March 2015 who said they would drive more over the next month.

While consumers say they are much more optimistic about the economy, they also report a small uptick in gas prices. U.S. fuel consumers reported seeing a median gas price of $1.80 per gallon, a one-cent increase from the February 2016 median of $1.79. This increase, however small, represents the first time consumers have reported a price increase of any size since June 2015.

One in three (34%) U.S. fuel consumers say gas prices have increased in their area in the past month, compared to 68% who noticed gas prices increasing in March 2015. There are significant regional differences; just 16% of fuel consumers in the Northeast report increased prices, while a majority (53%) of Midwesterners have seen higher prices at the pump this month.

When asked about gas prices 30 days in the future, a majority (53%) of U.S. fuel consumers say they expect gas prices to rise, while just one in eight (12%) are expecting prices to drop over the next month. This is the highest percentage of U.S. fuel consumers expecting higher prices since July 2015, when 54% expected increases in gas prices. However, it is still significantly fewer than in March 2015 when three in four drivers (73%) said they thought gas prices would increase.

Even with the slight increase in gas prices, miles per dollar — a calculation that examines gas prices related to vehicle fuel efficiency — hit a new high of 13.22 miles per dollar in March.

“There is a lot of good news for retailers in these results. People feel better about the economy and want to travel more. The key is whether they also will want to spend more and the results right now are mixed, with only 19% of Americans saying that they will spend more this month — the same level as in March 2015. Convenience retailers are optimistic that the increase in consumer sentiment and warmer weather will help grow sales at stores,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

NACS, which represents the convenience store industry that sells 80% of the gas sold in the country, conducts monthly consumer surveys to gauge how gas prices affect broader economic trends. The NACS survey was conducted online by Penn Schoen Berland; 1,101 gas consumers nationally were surveyed March 8-11, 2016. Summary results are available at www.nacsonline.com/gasprices.

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Founded in 1961 as the National Association of Convenience Stores, NACS (nacsonline.com) is the international association for convenience and fuel retailing. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores across the country, posted $696 billion in total sales in 2014, of which $483 billion were motor fuels sales. NACS has 2,100 retail and 1,700 supplier member companies, which do business in nearly 50 countries.