Report: Costco Captured Most Foot Traffic per Station of Any Fuel Brand in 2018

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BOSTON — If drivers are looking to fill up their gas tanks before the big game day weekend, they should consider filling up earlier in the week to avoid the lines, according to a new report from GasBuddy.

The 2018 Year in Review examined foot traffic throughout 2018 in the $600 billion convenience store and fuel retailing industry and found that consumers frequented gas stations the most during the end of the week (Friday, Saturday and Thursday). Contrary to the popular "morning coffee run," consumers frequently visited gas stations on Fridays between noon and 5 p.m., staying an average 7 minutes per visit.

According to GasBuddy, Costco Wholesale Corp. captured the most foot traffic per station of any brand in any segment — more than five times the industry average in 2018.

"It is now confirmed that filling up at Costco on a Friday afternoon is the worst idea ever unless you enjoy waiting in line," said Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy. "While it's not shocking that Thanksgiving and Christmas had their share of increased retail visits, Memorial Day weekend saw the highest uplift in foot traffic across all categories, including hotels, auto rental, restaurants and coffee shops, making it the best opportunity for retailers to excite customers with promotions and meaningful in-store experiences."

Other report highlights include:

Costco Claims the Top Spot in 2018

Costco, based in Issaquah, Wash., captured the most foot traffic per station of any brand in any segment (250-999 locations). Other annual segment winners include: Enon, Ohio-based Speedway (1,000-plus locations), Kentucky-based Thorntons (50-249 locations) and Indiana-based Ricker's (30-49 locations). GetGo, which recently acquired Ricker's, was another top performer, ranking No. 5 in the 50-249 locations segment.

Friday Fuel-ups

The top three busiest days of the week to fill up were Friday and Saturday, followed by Thursday. Rounding out the top five busiest times to fill up were Friday at noon and 5 p.m.; Saturday at 4 p.m.; Friday at 3 p.m.; and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Holiday Winners

When looking at the major driving holidays of 2018 (Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas), Memorial Day experienced the most uplift in foot traffic across fuel and convenience (45 percent). Other major on-the-go retail categories that saw lifts were: hotels (100 percent), auto rentals (40 percent), quick service restaurants (35 percent), casual dining (33 percent) and coffee shops (38 percent).

Tie for No. 1

Pilot Flying J and Wawa Inc. tied for the No. 1 spot by achieving the highest average foot traffic in five states. Costco and Cumberland Farms Inc. came in a close second with four wins, and the Kroger Co. and Speedway round out third with three wins.

Customer Service Ratings

Less than 5 percent of GasBuddy members' written reviews for customer service were neutral, while reviews with positive or negative sentiment comprised the remaining nearly 95 percent.

Reviews also had an impact customer foot traffic in 2018. Fuel and convenience retailers with above-average customer service ratings attracted 25 percent more foot traffic than their below-average counterparts.

The full report can found here.

From Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2018, GasBuddy analyzed anonymous, aggregated location visit data at more than 100 fuel and c-store brands and retail locations across the United States to understand foot traffic trends, provide geo-behavioral and consumer insights, and identify the impact of key factors such as ratings and reviews on POI visits. To be considered a "visit," a user must be within 30 meters of a fuel pump for between 2 and 30 minutes.

Boston-based GasBuddy connects drivers with their Perfect Pit Stop.