Price is the main factor for gas purchases
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Price remains the dominant reason why consumers buy gas at a particular location, but how consumers shop for that price is shifting, with some using online pricing guides to discounts to a store’s overall reputation.
Two thirds of consumers (66 percent) say that price is the most important factor in determining where they buy gas, according to the results of a new consumer survey released by the National Association of Convenience Stores.
But while a majority of these price-conscious consumers still shop by looking at the price posted at stores (57 percent), an increasing number of consumers today 'pre-plan' their trips: nearly one in five (18 percent) make their decision based on a specific loyalty card/discount and another 10 percent review gas prices online. And one in seven (14 percent) rely on a specific store's overall reputation for offering the best prices.
Moreover, the price of gas affects broader consumer sentiment beyond the fill-up: 85 percent of consumers say that gas prices impact how they feel about the economy.
Gas prices affect consumer sentiment because filling up is such an important part of daily life. Nearly 160 million consumers shop at convenience stores every day, with 40 million of them fueling up on any given day.
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Consumers will go out of their way to find the best deal for gas prices: 66 percent say that they would drive five minutes out of their way to save 5 cents per gallon and 39 percent would drive 10 minutes out of their way to save 5 cents per gallon.
In addition, consumers are very willing to change their method of payment if it leads to cost savings: 78 percent would switch from paying by credit card to debit card and 66 percent would pay by cash if they could save 5 cents per gallon.
The national survey of more than 1,100 consumers was conducted by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates LLC examined how consumers shop for gas and other items, what changes their behavior and how gas prices impact their views on fueling and the broader economy.
“Gas prices play an enormous role in consumers' everyday conversations,” said John Eichberger, NACS vice president of government relations. “Retailers know that consumers will go someplace else for a difference of a few cents per gallon — and this daily battle for customers is why retail fuel margins are so thin,” he said.
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