The mild winter weather across much of the country helped to offset the negative impact that rising gas prices traditionally have had on convenience store visits, according to The NPD Group, a market research company based in Houston.
In the first calendar quarter of 2012 compared to the same quarter a year ago, traffic at all convenience stores increased by five percentage points; traffic at major oil chain stores increased by six percentage points, the research firm said.
Convenience-store customers continued to pay slightly more for products, with the average transaction amount increasing slightly to $11.21 in the first quarter of 2012 compared to $11.08 in the same quarter a year ago, the research firm reported. The firm said it continually tracks purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S.
At the same time, consumers are not purchasing more products at convenience stores, the research showed. The average units purchased was approximately 3.4 items per visit in the first calendar quarter of this year, the same level as a year ago, the firm found.
“Overall, the first quarter key metrics for the convenience store channel do not appear to be as dismal as expected in light of higher gas prices,” said David Portalatin, NPD’s convenience store analyst. “The unseasonable warm winter weather this year compared to the harsh winter last year was certainly a key factor in bringing in more visits and maintaining channel penetration levels.”