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11/21/2023

Driving Fuel Customers Into the Store

PDI Technologies: Having the products customers want is key.
Danielle Romano
Managing Editor
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Woman fueling up at gas station

ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Convenience store retailers need to focus on fundamentals after experiencing significant tailwinds behind the rise of in-store sales, according to a new report from PDI Technologies Inc.

Encompassing data from PDI and GasBuddy, a PDI company, "Tracking Convenience Report: From the Pump to the C-Store" urges convenience operators to convert visitors from the pump to the store, ultimately increasing overall foot traffic to drive sales and increase engagement.

[Read more: More Americans to Hit the Road for Thanksgiving as Gas Prices Ease]

"Evolving trends in the convenience retail landscape are reshaping customer behaviors, but today fuel stops remain the primary driver of convenience store visits," said Patrick De Haan, head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy. "In light of today's unpredictable fuel market, retailers should adapt their approach to entice fuel customers to explore the store, especially during peak visit hours, in order to drive sales growth and increase customer engagement." 

Key insights from the report include:

  • Increase units per basket for foundational growth: During 2023, convenience retailers experienced significant tailwinds behind the rise of in-store sales (up 2.2 percent), spend per basket (up 3.9 percent) and average price per unit (up 4.1 percent). But most of this growth has been driven by persistent inflation.
  • Get to know the in-store consumer mindset: Store trips were down 1.7 percent in 2023, but the overall percentage of shoppers spending five to 10 minutes per trip in the store has grown year over year. Many consumers are displaying a different mindset at different times of the day, the report found.
  • Know what customers are craving: According to PDI Insights and Analytics data, three key categories experienced especially high growth in 2023: alternative snacks, liquor and wine.

"This year, the retail landscape is defined by modest growth in in-store sales, primarily driven by price inflation rather than more trips or larger baskets," said Greg Crow, vice president of Insights at PDI. "To thrive in this environment, convenience retailers need to get creative in how they approach balancing convenience and value to address consumer concerns about rising costs. Utilizing data-driven strategies is key to maintaining shopper engagement and building customer loyalty."

[Read more: PDI Expands Small Operator Reach With Skupos Acquisition]

To download "Tracking Convenience Report: From the Pump to the C-Store," click here.

Alpharetta-based PDI Technologies resides at the intersection of productivity and sales growth, delivering powerful solutions that serve as the backbone of the convenience retail and petroleum wholesale ecosystem. Today, the company serves more than 200,000 locations worldwide with solutions like the Fuel Rewards program and GasBuddy, two brands representing more than 30 million users.