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GasBuddy Study: C-Stores ‘Eating’ Into Quick Service Restaurants

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Last updated on June 13th, 2024 at 04:16 pm

A new study from GasBuddy reveals gas station convenience stores are taking the market share from quick service restaurants.

The study also concludes 43 percent of Millennials purchase more food from c-stores now than three years ago.

Fast food restaurants have been the go-to for a quick bite for decades. And as Americans get busier, gas station convenience stores have stepped up to provide exceptional, speedy foodservice, creating new competition in the market to contend with long-time restaurateurs.

Foodservice now makes up nearly 23 percent of sales at convenience stores nationwide, growing three percent in the past 5 years.

GasBuddy examines how, why and where convenience store foodservice is gaining on quick service restaurants.
The study found that 56 percent of Americans purchase meals at least once per month at gas station convenience stores, with younger Americans purchasing food at convenience stores more frequently. Twenty-five percent of those aged 30-44 purchase food five or more times per month, while 20 percent of those aged 18-29 purchase food at convenience stores three to four times per month.

A significant portion of 18-29 year olds purchase more meals from convenience stores than they did three years ago (43 percent), and 75% percent of Americans believe convenience store foodservice has improved in the past five years.

“Convenience retailers with compelling foodservice programs are a growing threat to quick service restaurants,” said Frank Beard, convenience store trends analyst at GasBuddy. “Data show that people choose convenience stores over fast food locations because of the convenience of an all-in-one stop for fuel and food, followed by a preference for the taste of the food at c-stores. Couple this with leading convenience brands like Wawa and QuikTrip rapidly expanding across the country, and fast food brands will be forced to find innovative ways to catch up.”

Increased Dollar Spend and Consumer Preference

Frequent visits to purchase meals at convenience stores come with increased dollar spend. The study found that one in four Americans spend $6-10 per week on convenience store foodservice, with nearly 20 percent of Americans aged 18-29 spending $10-15 per week.

The most-preferred meals from convenience stores and QSRs include sandwiches or wraps (1), fresh salad (2), pizza (3), burgers and fries (4) and fried chicken (5).

“Convenience brands are well-positioned to cater to consumer’s tastes because they aren’t pigeon-holed into one type of cuisine,” said Beard. “Our study found that younger Americans prefer more variety, particularly with newer menu items like burritos and pizzas.”

As for the time it takes to receive their food, nearly one-third of consumers are only willing to wait five minutes for their meal.

When asked about what they don’t like about fast food establishments, consumers cited unhealthy options as the top concern (1), followed by the quality of the food (2), restaurant cleanliness (3), and limited food and drink options (4).

Additional insights can be found by contacting advertisement(at)gasbuddy.com and by attending the National Restaurant Association Conference in Chicago on May 19, 2019 where GasBuddy’s convenience store trends analyst Frank Beard will be speaking about this topic.

Results are based on 550 responses from a GasBuddy survey issued on April 24, 2019.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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