Pandemic Shopping Habits Boosted Warehouse & Grocer Fuel Sales

For warehouse clubs and grocery stores, one-stope shopping led to a larger share of the fuel market during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Costco gas

One-stop shopping became the ruling trend throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumers stayed home and made less frequent trips. For warehouse clubs and grocery stores, the trend led to a larger share of the fuel market.

That’s because when shoppers went to stock up for their households, they also fueled up, according to Convenience Store News. The average number of visits among fuel buyers dropped from 4.2 per month in 2019 to 3.6 in 2020, the Motor Fuels Index from The NPD Group found. However, the average number of gallons per buyer increased. 

Executive Summary

That aligns with grocery shopping trends, as well, as consumers made less frequent trips to the store but tended to check out with bigger baskets. The trend enabled retailers that offer a wider range of services--including fuel--to capture larger market shares across a number of categories.

Warehouse clubs and grocery stores captured 20% of fuel market share in 2020, marking a new record high for the sector. Plus, shoppers were more likely to use other services at high-volume retailers, such as ATMs and fast-food restaurants, when they visited.

“The pandemic has upped the ante on the importance of the consumer experience across all of retail, and the motor fuels market is experiencing this shift as fuel buyers look to get more from their shopping trips," said Nathan Shipley, NPD's automotive analyst. "While there will be an evolution as the consumer enters the next stage of 'normal,' pandemic-driven behaviors will continue to play a role in motor fuel purchase decisions."

The shopping behaviors exhibited during the Covid-19 pandemic could stick as consumers return to normal life and travel more, as preparing for a road trip can influence the same type of one-stop shopping. Daily commutes to work are likely to remain deflated with more people working from home, meaning engaging with the fuel-buying consumer is still a major opportunity for retailers.

See the full story at Convenience Store News.