convenience store shoppers wantconvenience

A comprehensive new study by Meyers Research Center (MRC) finds that convenience store shoppers are seeking cold beverages, friendly employees and know what they want before they get through the door. The findings are part of Meyers’ Convenience Store Close-Up Wave Six, which takes a look at behavior, attitudes and decision-making patterns of c-store shoppers in the U.S. The study also disclosed that nearly half of all consumers surveyed said they are making sacrifices to pay higher gas prices at the pump.

“C-Store shoppers are telling us that the helpfulness and the friendliness of the employees was rated high when selecting a store to shop in, along with fast checkout and cleanliness,” explains Jeff Friedlaender, vice president of Meyers Research Center.

“Higher gasoline prices are driving consumers to less convenient locations in search of lower prices, which are more important than finding the most convenient c-store,” Friedlaender said.

The report presents the results of the sixth wave of Meyers Research Center’s Convenience Store Close-Up series and was fielded in July, August and September of 2006. This research was conducted via in-store intercept interviews with consumers as they were exiting the convenience store, immediately after they finished paying for their purchases.

A random sample of 1,074 convenience store shoppers were interviewed in 31 locations across 17 geographically dispersed U.S. cities. Additional finding include:

Pain At The Gas Pump Influences Nearly Half of All Surveyed. The cost of gas is of concern to c-store shoppers and the majority would choose access to lower cost gas above their own convenience. Half of the subjects (48%) said they had to give up something in order to pay higher gas prices over the past summer. Most often relinquished were vacations/travel, dining out/take out, and entertainment (movies, theater, ball games). To a lesser extent, people also cut back on shopping, particularly of apparel and DVD movies/games. A minority of 2% said groceries or utility bills were sacrificed.

Employees Outweigh Other Factors in C-Store Selection. Seventy five percent of shoppers surveyed said “Helpful, friendly employees” outweighed factors such as good prices (38%), fast checkout (38%), wide selection (27%) and prepared foods (3%) when deciding which c-store outlet to shop in.

Planned Purchases On the Rise — In-Store Influences Declining. The influence of in-store factors in c-stores has dropped since the study was last conducted in 2004, falling from a 2004 level of 12% to 4% in 2006. Either there is less being used or it is less compelling to consumers.

“Convenience store shoppers are making purchasing decisions based on category planning and the role that the c-store plays in their day-to-day activities,” said Friedlaender.

“Dashboard Dining” Remains Popular. Over 85% of products purchased at the c-store are consumed within 30 minutes of check-out and over half within five minutes, usually by the shopper and nobody else. More than half (56%) of shoppers said that they plan to consume their purchases in the car while traveling.

Typical PurchasesA cold drink purchase is made by about half of the shoppers — the most typical purchase by far. Shopping for snack food and cigarettes is also highly prevalent. Gas is frequently purchased at stores selling gas; among the shoppers buying merchandise in a c-store with attached gas station, currently 25% were purchasing gas, slightly lower than in 2004 (30%).

What Drives People To C-Stores?Purchasing a cold beverage leads the list of destination drivers to c-stores. The purchase of gas and cigarettes also play a very important role in driving much convenience store traffic. However, presently gas is slightly less of a destination driver to c-stores than in 2004, being replaced by snack food and lottery ticket purchasing.

For additional information on the Convenience Store Close-Up Wave Six visit www.meyersresearch.com.

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