Forecast 2019: The Prognosis for Motor Fuels
NATIONAL REPORT — After a year of flagging optimism, a majority of convenience store operators are positive about fuel sales in 2019, with at least six out of 10 expecting an increase in both average dollar sales (62.5 percent cited) and gallon sales (60 percent). This is a jump from last year, when 52.4 percent expected dollar sales to increase and only 46.6 percent expected gallon sales to increase, according to the results of the 2019 Convenience Store News Forecast Study.
The number of retailers who expect no change in the fuels category year over year is a distant second, with 21.9 percent believing dollar sales will stay the same and 26.7 percent believing gallons sold will be unchanged. Negative expectations are in the minority, as just 15.6 percent expect dollar sales to decline and 13.3 percent expect a drop in gallon sales.
Surveyed retailers cited lower fuel prices and alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and biofuels, as factors in their optimism. Others pointed to their own improved forecourt offerings as a reason for expected sales increases, predicting that loyalty programs, truck stop amenities and additional pumps will attract more motorist traffic to their sites.
Retailers also expect to see increased consumer driving, but are wary of the potential effects of electric vehicle usage, ride-share services and future natural disasters.
Overall, retailers predict net increases of 1.1 percent for average fuel dollar sales and 1.5 percent for gallons sold per store. This is down slightly from last year's expectation of a 1.7-percent increase in dollar sales and 1.6-percent increase in gallons.
The 17th annual CSNews Forecast Study includes a Retailer Forecast and Supplier Forecast, both based on the results of a survey fielded in November 2018. Participants were asked to predict 2019 sales per store for a variety of product categories, as well as to share their opinions on overall business, economic and consumer trends. The Forecast Study also provides dollar and unit volume projections in key c-store product categories.