The holiday shopping season kicked off with a bang, with an estimated 164 million people shopping during the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to projections from the National Retail Federation. But the record number of U.S. holiday shoppers during those five days is eclipsed by the estimated 165 million people who shop at a convenience store every day, according to a new report released by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
The report, Time To Shop documents how Americans shop at convenience stores. It features data collected from national consumer surveys conducted this year by public opinion research firm PSB.
Americans rely on convenience stores to refuel their vehicles, or to grab a quick snack, beverage, or meal—in less than 4 minutes. These shoppers are all visiting C-stores for the convenience of one-stop shopping with fast service. C-stores fulfill an immediate need to fuel up or fill up, selling 80% of the gas purchased in the U.S. And 83% of the food, drinks, and snacks shoppers buy are consumed within an hour of purchase.
“Half of America stops at a convenience store every day, though people may not even think about the experience because it is so quick and convenient,” said NACS VP of strategic industry initiatives Jeff Lenard. “Throughout the remainder of the year, plenty of holiday shoppers will visit convenience stores to fill up their cars, grab a quick drink or snack as they hit the roads, or even buy gift cards and stocking stuffers at C-stores.”
Here are a few insights into how Americans shop at C-stores:
- Convenient locations: 93% of Americans live within 10 minutes of a convenience store, including 86% of those living in rural areas. Convenient location was cited as the top convenience attribute by consumers (33%), outpacing other convenience offerings including “no lines” (30%), plenty of parking spots close to the store (9%), and the ability to order online (6%).
- One-stop shopping: 48% of gas customers say they went inside the store the last time they purchased fuel. Of those purchasing an item, 53% say they went inside primarily to purchase a beverage.
- Speed of service: Nearly half of customers (45%) said they were in and out of the store with a purchase in under 3 minutes. Meanwhile, 21% spent more than 5 minutes inside the store, most likely because they were ordering prepared food or dining inside the store.
- New convenience opportunities: Frequent C-store customers are most likely to embrace retailers that offer instant pay or cashierless checkout solutions. Both online ordering for in-store pickup and ordering items from other stores that could be picked up at in-store lockers were also heavily favored by frequent C-store customers.
Download the complete report at convenience.org/TimeToShop.