Shift to Self Service, Convenience Stores Attracts Major Brands : Gas Stations Continue to Evolve

From United Press International

The nation’s network of service stations is continuing its shift to self-service pumps and convenience stores in a marketing evolution that has begun to attract major-brand stations, a survey reported Monday.

“The most dramatic change is the rate at which major-brand outlets are being converted to self-service convenience stores,” industry analyst Dan Lundberg said of his nationwide survey of stations in August.

“Majors and their branded distributors are on a fast track to benefit from the economic advantages that private branders have proved out for years,” Lundberg said.

Between August, 1984, and August, 1985, the share of retail gasoline outlets in the United States offering full service slipped to 45.1% from 46%, according to the survey.

Behind the shift, Lundberg said, is the transformation of service stations to convenience stores, which are almost always self-serve only.


Nearly 83% of non-major stations are self-service only, while major-brand outlets are still either full or split service, he said.

But the majors “are on a fast track to apply many of the same principles the non-majors do--including self service and C-store tie-in merchandising.”

The percentage of self-service only major-brand outlets is twice what it was in 1981, Lundberg said.

And the percentage of major-brand outlets with convenience stores, while still only 5.5%, is more than double what it was in January, 1981, when the oil industry was decontrolled.

“In the past year alone, the percentage of major-branded outlets with self-service only increased over 5 (percentage) points to 31.4%,” he said.

“The percentage with C-stores increased from 5% to 5.5% since last August.”