WAWA, Pa. — Wawa Inc. is one of 10 brands with a winning strategy for 2023, according to Placer.ai, which tracks retail foot traffic and provides location analytics.
Although inflation, rising gas prices and the threat of recession made 2022 a tumultuous year for retail, the changing economic and consumer landscapes are also creating new opportunities for businesses.
According to the new white paper "10 Top Retail Brands to Watch in 2023," which draws on layers of geospatial, psychographic and foot traffic data, Wawa is the "c-store darling of dining" as the channel itself appears to be taking market share from quick-service restaurant locations.
Not only has Wawa's foodservice program been praised by gourmet publications like Food & Wine and Saveur in recent years, the convenience store chain's popularity with customers is also soaring. Overall foot traffic to Wawa is on the rise, with average visits per store growing across all seven states in the retailer's footprint, Placer.ai pointed out.
The largest increases in average visits per store from July to November 2022, compared to the same time period in 2019, occurred at Wawa stores in New Jersey (up 48 percent), Delaware (up 42.2 percent) and Washington, D.C. (up 50.1 percent). The remaining states in Wawa's operating area all saw average visit per store grow between 34.3 percent and 41.2 percent.
This growth may be a contributing factor in Wawa's growth plans, which include entrances into multiple new states and the opening of new stores in areas adjacent to existing markets.
Wawa is also a brand to watch based on its loyal customer base, which includes "Wawaholics." Some Wawa fans have gone as far as to get married at the Wawa where they met or to get an arm tattoo of the Wawa goose from its logo, according to Placer.ai.
Similar to foot traffic, Wawa loyalty is on the rise compared to 2019. Between July and November 2022, the share of loyal customers (those who return to a Wawa store more than twice in a given time period) increased by 4.5 percent vs. the same time period three years ago.
This juxtaposition of strong loyalty, expansion plans and food that is celebrated by both foodies and regular joes can help position the Wawa brand for success into the new year, according to the report.
Pennsylvania-based Wawa operates nearly 1,000 c-stores throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C.