Convenience Retailers Gear Up for Memorial Day Weekend Travelers

Of the overall travel, AAA forecasts 87.6 percent will be by car.
Couple traveling by car for National Road Trip Day

NATIONAL REPORT — An uptick in travelers for the unofficial start of summer can be a win for the convenience store industry.

According to AAA, 42.3 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more from home this Memorial Day weekend — a 7 percent increase over 2022. With 2.7 million more people traveling compared to last year, it could be a sign of what's to come in the months ahead.  

"This is expected to be the third busiest Memorial Day weekend since 2000, when AAA started tracking holiday travel," said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. "More Americans are planning trips and booking them earlier, despite inflation. This summer travel season could be one for the record books, especially at airports."  

C-store Deals On Tap

Convenience retailers are rolling out promotions to ease the summer traveling experience.

In honor of National Road Trip Day on May 26, Pilot Flying J is fueling summer travels with a $10,000 giveaway from May 22-31 with daily chances to win $1,000 Pilot Flying J gift cards. To enter to win, visit Pilot Flying J's Facebook each day of the giveaway to share road trip photos and favorites.

Pilot Flying 10 cents off fuel promotion

"Summer is the perfect time to hit the road and take in the sights, and Pilot Flying J is ready to help travelers make the most of their adventures with special deals this summer," said Adrienne Ingoldt, vice president of brand and marketing for Pilot Flying J. "Wherever you are heading, there's a Pilot or Flying J along the way to fill up and refresh with plenty of options to make everyone in the car happy."

Travelers can also save 10 cents off every gallon of gas at more than 800 participating Pilot, Flying J and One9 travel centers from May 22 through Sept. 5. To get these savings all summer, consumers can text "SAVE10" to 26494 and follow the text prompts to redeem the discount at the pump or in store.

[Read more: Pilot Co. Kicks Off Hiring Initiative]

Moving beyond fuel deals, Pilot Flying J is adding to its menu of made-in-house foods with new items, such as "The Big Dog" — a half-pound, all-beef, footlong hot dog roped in fresh pizza dough and topped with garlic butter — and its new cheesy breadsticks launching June 6. Other seasonal items include Nashville Hot Chicken wings, corn chowder soup, and fresh-cut fruit with watermelon, grapes and cantaloupe.

Pilot Travel Centers LLC is the largest network of travel centers in North America. The Pilot Flying J travel center network includes more than 750 locations in 44 states and six Canadian provinces with more than 790 restaurants, 77,000 truck parking spaces, 5,500 deluxe showers, 6,300 diesel lanes, and truck maintenance and tire service with Southern Tire Mart at Pilot Flying J.

Pilot Flying J is part of the Pilot Co. family of brands. Founded in 1958 and headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., Pilot Co. is a majority owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.

Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. is also rolling out a forecourt promotion for holiday travelers. The convenience retailer is offering 5 cents off per gallon on 7-Eleven and Speedway-branded fuel to 7Rewards and Speedy Rewards loyalty members from May 26 through May 28.

For those traveling on Monday, May 29, the c-store operator is offering 11 cents off per gallon at 7-Eleven or Speedway-branded fuel locations to customers who use the 7Rewards or Speedy Rewards app.

In addition to the promotion, 7NOW Delivery users will get $20 off a $30 basket on May 29.

TXB free giveaways for Memorial Day

Lastly, this Memorial Day holiday Texas Born (TXB) is taking the opportunity to thank active military, veterans and first responders with a free drink of choice, including fountain drinks, coffee, tea and frozen beverages at all all of its 48 locations across Texas and Oklahoma.

Holiday Travel by the Numbers

Of the overall travel, 87.6 percent will be by car. Memorial Day road trips are up 6 percent over last year as 37.1 million Americans will drive to their destinations, an increase of more than 2 million.

The good news for motorists is gas prices are lower this holiday compared to last year, when the national average was more than $4 a gallon. However, even with the lower prices at the pump, car travel this holiday will be shy of pre-pandemic numbers by about 500,000 travelers, according to AAA.

AAA 2023 Memorial Day travel chart

Nearly 3.4 million travelers are expected to fly to their destinations this Memorial Day, that's an increase of 11 percent over last year. Air travel over the holiday weekend is projected to exceed pre-pandemic levels, with 170,000 more passengers, or 5.4 percent more, than in 2019. Despite high ticket prices, demand for flights is skyrocketing. This Memorial Day weekend could be the busiest at airports since 2005. 

Additionally, more people this holiday are taking other modes of transportation, like buses and trains. These travelers are expected to total 1.85 million, an increase of 20.6 percent over 2022. 

AAA's research adds that top domestic destinations include tourist hotspots like Orlando, Fla., New York and Las Vegas. With a 50 percent increase in domestic cruise bookings, port cities in Florida and Alaska, as well as Seattle, are also high on the destination list.

Other popular U.S. cities this holiday weekend include Denver, Boston, Anaheim, Calif., and Canton, Ohio, — home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.