Gas Stations Dwindling

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Gas Stations Dwindling

02/12/2002

CAMARILLO, Calif. -- The number of gas stations in the United States continued to decline in 2001, following a decades-long trend, according to a recent study.

There was a net loss of 400 retail stations nationwide in 2001, according to the Lundberg Survey Inc. There were 287,000 stations in 1972 and 186,000 in 1982. Lundberg estimates there are currently about 130,000 stations in the United States.

Because the rate of decline has slowed in recent years, Lundberg believes the decades-long trend may soon come to an end. Recent station closures were blamed on narrow retail gasoline margins, intense competition, mergers and the December 1998 deadline to comply with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

The country's traditional stations with bays -- independent stations with two pumps and a service garage -- have been more likely to close than larger stations with snack shops, according to Lundberg.

Of the stations that closed in the United States in 2001, 30 percent had attached convenience stores.