Price Is Deciding Factor in Choice of Fueling Location

NACS releases results of its annual Retail Fuels Report.

Price remains the dominant reason why consumers buy fuel at a particular location, according to the results from the new 2012 NACS Consumer Fuels Report.

Nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) rated price as the most important reason why they select a particular location for fueling, more than triple any other reason.

NACS released findings from the 2012 NACS Consumer Fuels Report today as part of the association’s annual Retail Fuels Report, which examines conditions and trends that could impact gasoline prices (www.nacsonline.com/gasprices).

This is the fourth time in the past six years that NACS has surveyed consumers, providing insights on how consumers shop for gas, what changes their behavior, how they perceive the convenience store industry and how they feel about alternative energy and vehicles.

Of customers citing gas prices as their primary reason for shopping at a specific store, they overwhelmingly said that the reason they select a location is because of the posted price. Of those saying that they shopped on price, two thirds of consumers (66%) said that they made up their minds where to buy while already in their cars, as opposed to preplanning their visit.

“These findings show what most retailers already know: Loyalty at the pump only lasts until the next fill-up, and retailers must compete furiously for an uncommitted customer,” said NACS Vice President of Government Relations John Eichberger. “And consumer awareness of gas prices as part of their daily travels may help fuel their frustration over price increases because they are constantly surveying the landscape and monitoring prices.”

NACS also examined how much consumers will change their behavior to save even a few cents per gallon by driving across the street, driving up to 10 minutes out of their way or paying by cash inside the store. Even at a savings of only a penny per gallon, nearly a quarter of all consumers (23%) would change their behavior.

The first of three reports examining findings from the NACS Consumer Fuels Report is online as part of the 2012 NACS Retail Fuels Report. NACS plans to release additional findings throughout the month of February.

For more than a decade, NACS has developed its annual Retail Fuels Report to explain market conditions, especially as they relate to price swings, and has shared this information with Congress, key media contacts and other opinion leaders throughout the country. The goal is to educate the general public by demystifying the retail fueling industry by examining who sells fuels and how it is sold. This year, NACS has added a number of new elements. In addition to the results from the Consumer Fuels Report, other new elements explain how branded stations operate and how Brent oil has become the new benchmark for retail prices.

NACS annually releases its Retail Fuels Report every Feb. 2. The first week of February traditionally marks the beginning of the spring transition to summer-blend fuels for the petroleum industry. Since 2000, gasoline prices have increased, on average, more than 50 cents between the first week in February and the time of the seasonal high price, typically late May. In addition, the petroleum markets are similar to the Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day,” in which his character wakes up every day to find that it unfolds, event-by-event, exactly the same as the day he had just experienced. The petroleum markets experience similar conditions over and over — except on an annual, rather than daily, basis. It is because of the similarity to the movie and the traditional start of the spring transition to summer-blend gasoline that NACS has annually published its online resources on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day.

“Our annual Retail Fuels Report is a critical communications tool to advocate on behalf of the industry, and it may be particularly important in 2012 as we begin the year with gas prices already at seasonal highs,” said Eichberger. “Transparency is the key to understanding the motor fuels market, and we encourage retailers to share this information with key opinion-makers in their markets, whether state officials, reporters or customers.”

  • rw @ FuelQuest

    A great summary article. Most interesting in the report… “Consumers will considerably change their behavior to save a
    few cents per gallon”…to the point of in-convenience.

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