C-store Shoppers Value Cleanliness, Appearance, Customer Service

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C-store Shoppers Value Cleanliness, Appearance, Customer Service

NEW YORK -- Convenience store retailers who want to attract the most shoppers should focus on the fundamentals, according to results of monthly, nationally representative surveys of 1,200 U.S. adults by M/A/R/C Research.

Cleanliness is the No. 1 reason consumers choose one convenience store over another, according to M/A/R/C, which found 32 percent of shoppers citing a clean, well-lit store environment as one factor that would most cause them to seek out or wish to visit a specific store.

The strength of a store's offer and brand value are important, too, with one-quarter of respondents stating they most consider "a store chain I can trust." Nearly as many sought outstanding customer service.

The value of offering a value was evident in the survey results; one in five adults said special promotions would make them consider a visit to a specific c-store.

Still, a full 16 percent of those surveyed said they don't seek out c-stores at all.

Unfortunately, the top reason shoppers said they sometimes avoid c-stores is a trait inherent in its makeup: limited selection of products, the research firm revealed. Nearly half the respondents cited this as one of their top three reasons or not shopping c-stores. Following product selection were concerns about safety (30 percent of shoppers); poor-quality staff (29 percent); and an unwelcoming store environment (28 percent)—three perceptions the c-store industry has worked hard to overcome—and has made great strides in those efforts—for decades.

One-fourth of the respondents said unattractive store appearance, loitering and long lines were major turnoffs. One in five were repelled by out-of-stocks.

Messy or unavailable restrooms, a poorly lit parking lot and confusing store layout were reasons at least one in 10 of the respondents said they avoided convenience stores.

There are some general shopping trends, however, uncovered by M/A/R/C Research that should be encouraging to c-store operators. When consumers were asked in February, May and June about their feelings on shopping, there was an 8 percent jump between February and June in the number of convenience-seeking respondents who said they would "pay more if my life is made easier." The percentage of respondents answering this way was up from 19 percent of respondents to 27 percent.

In June, when asked, "Which of the of the following best describe how you feel about shopping today?" 41 percent said they "want to get in and out as quickly as possible."

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