If there is one thing drivers all have in common, it’s the need to fill up at the gas station. And you may find you’re doing more than buying your gas there. The $600 billion dollar convenience store and fuel retailing industry is one of the only growing retail sectors in America according to GasBuddy. It had a growth rate of 0.3% from 2017 to 2018 with more anticipated growth in 2019.
That said, gas stations haven’t always been thought of fondly, (think movies with dimly lit gas stations or “mystery meat” in the rotating display.) But Gasbuddy reports that with more than 140,000 locations, today’s top brands are reinventing the gas station experience at a rapid pace.
Its 2018 Top Gas Station Brands in the U.S. report
reveals which gas station convenience store brands had the best-of-the-best experience. The rankings are based on nearly 7 million reviews on the GasBuddy app and are based on categories like cleanliness, coffee, customer service, outdoor lighting, and of course, restrooms.
“Gas may be the primary reason consumers stop at the gas station, but it’s everything else that keeps them coming back,” says Frank Beard, convenience store and retail trends analyst at GasBuddy. “GasBuddy ratings and reviews data show that customer service, food, and amenities are the top factors in generating positive reviews. All the brands that made our list this year demonstrate how the industry continues to move towards being a destination for fresh food, clean facilities, and excellent customer service.”
Ratings and Reviews Findings Include:
- GasBuddy ratings and reviews data shows that the top factors that generate positive sentiment in customer reviews at gas station convenience stores include customer service (1), food (2) and amenities (3).
- Conversely, the top categories that generate negative sentiment in customer reviews are customer service (1), gas/diesel pumps (2) and amenities (3).
- The top keywords in customer reviews include ‘gas station,’ ‘customer service’, ‘friendly staff’ and ‘gas prices’.
- The categories that received the most ratings in 2018 were overall experience, outdoor lighting and customer service.
- Passionate About Gas Stations: The states with the highest average number of ratings per station in 2018 were Ohio (1), Indiana (2) and Illinois (3).
Top 10 Gas Station Brands in the U.S. in 2018
1. Kwik Trip
Leading the pack is Wisconsin-based Kwik Trip. With more than 560 U.S. locations in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, Kwik Trip sweeps the rankings by capturing the highest ratings and reviews in four of the six GasBuddy categories: cleanliness, outdoor lighting, restrooms and overall experience.
With more than 1,700 locations across 19 states, Minnesota-based Cenex with also made a strong showing in 2018 by placing second in the overall category and in three individual categories including cleanliness, outdoor lighting and restrooms. Cenex received top marks in customer service.
3. Kum & Go
Headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, Kum & Go placed in five of the six categories, including cleanliness (3), customer service (5), outdoor lighting (4), restrooms (4) and overall experience (3). Kum & Go has more than 430 locations in the U.S., with eight locations having opened in 2018 in Colorado and Montana.
4. Casey’s General Store
Ankeny, Iowa-based Casey’s General Store operates more than 2,000 locations in the Midwestern United States, with a super-fan following for their pizza offerings. The brand places in the following categories: overall (4), cleanliness (5), outdoor lighting (5) and restrooms (3).
5. Cumberland Farms
With more than 500 locations in New York, New England and Florida, this Massachusetts-based company places fifth overall and places in first for gas station coffee. In 2014, a blind taste-test
revealed that Cumberland Farms coffee tasted just as good as Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend coffee.
With more than 325 locations in New England, Canadian-based Irving is thriving in the U.S. market placing sixth overall and ranking high in cleanliness (4), coffee (2) and outdoor lighting (3).
7. Kwik Fill
Headquartered in Warren, Pa., Kwik Fill has 278 locations throughout New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania, ranking seventh overall and taking third place in customer service.
8. Holiday StationStores
Placing eighth overall is Holiday StationStores, a gas station convenience store chain based in West Bloomington, Minn. Holiday has more than 500 locations throughout Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The brand also places 5th in the gas station coffee category.
A long-time fixture on American roads with its green brontosaurus mascot, Sinclair has more than 1,500 locations across the United States. Sinclair places ninth overall and fourth in customer service.
Rounding out the top ten is Maverik. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Maverik has more than 330 gas stations and convenience stores in 11 western states. The brand also placed fifth for top-rated restrooms.
Busiest Time to Fill Up
If you want to beat the crowds, don’t fill up at the end of the week. GasBuddy also reports
that Fridays, followed by Saturday and Thursday, are busiest at the pump. People most often visit gas stations between noon and 5pm and stay an average of 7 minutes.
As far as holidays goes, Memorial Day weekend beat out Thanksgiving as “busiest travel weekend” in 2018, with the largest uplift in traffic across all retail categories compared to all other holiday weekends.