How Gas Prices Affect Inside C-Store Sales

By Federal Industries Dec 7, 2022

With gas prices at historical highs, many C-store owners are feeling the toll. Customers are spending more at the pump and less in the store, which is bad news for revenue. People might think that higher gas prices mean that C-stores make more money, but that isn’t the case.

Because stores make the bulk of their money from inside sales — not gasoline sales — higher gas prices cause them to lose foot traffic, and thus, their most important sales.

Are Customers Buying Less?

Fuel prices are currently at a forty-year high, and people everywhere are feeling the pinch. If it seems like customers aren’t buying as much in C-stores, the feeling is accurate: studies have shown that once gas prices reach $4 a gallon, customers stop buying other items in-store.

Having less foot traffic in the store naturally lowers sales. When customers enter, they tend to browse, giving them time to notice things they want or need or to spot discounts and deals. Not coming into the store at all means losing those sales.

When gas prices are high, customers aren’t focused on browsing, either. They are already worried about paying for their fuel, so they are much less likely to have extra money to spend.

So what can store owners do to  offset the impact and retain sales, despite the high gas costs?

Offset The Impact

C-stores can push back against the tide and try to get customers to come inside, despite the higher gas prices. It might take some creativity, but there are a few solid ways to increase sales by encouraging customers to park and come into the store.

Fuel Discount Programs

Some stores have had success with offering fuel discounts dependent on store purchases. If customers are interested in getting gas at a lower price, they must buy an item in the store — and getting them in the store is the main goal. Once customers enter, they are much more likely to browse and find other items they want to buy, further driving store sales.

Cash Purchase Discount

As mentioned above, the main goal is to get customers to come into the store. Another way is to offer discounts for cash purchases of fuel. This means that rather than paying at the pump, customers will need to enter the store. And that, of course, means that they are more likely to spend on other items inside, especially if they are getting fuel at a discount.

Advertising at the Pump

Playing ads at the pump is an increasingly common way to market to customers. Using this time to promote items in the store, especially deals and discounts,  has been shown to be an effective form of marketing. Even though customers are still paying more at the pump, their attention is caught,  and they are convinced to come inside.

Keep Food Sales Strong

Sometimes, the best kind of marketing is a  strategically-placed display. Most C-stores want to keep in-store sales of food and beverages high. A solid way to do this is by setting up a few well-placed displays.

Federal’s drink merchandisers and food display cases can help C-stores market their items effectively.  Island merchandisers,  countertop merchandisers, and  alcohol displays help display hot or cold items at strategic points throughout the store, catching customers’ attention and increasing the likelihood of sales.

Surviving the Gas Hike as a C-Store

Gas prices may be the highest they’ve been in decades, but that doesn’t spell the end for convenience stores. Effective marketing strategies can help keep retail sales up — and these simply require the right tools and a bit of creativity.


Download our foodservice merchandising tips for more info on how to create sales inside your convenience store.

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