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Americans Love Buying Gas at Wholesale Clubs Like Costco

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On: Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 1:00PM | By: Chris Weiss

Americans Love Buying Gas at Wholesale Clubs Like Costco

According to a new study by customer intelligence firm Market Force Information, wholesale clubs are the most popular gas stations in America. Costco is the most popular gas station in America and it's followed by competitor Sam's Club. Despite having membership requirements that you won't find at the average gas station, consumers are flocking to these stations in droves.

Costco also topped Market Force Information's 2012 study and a recent Harris poll. Clearly it's doing something right in its gas operation.

"With their low prices and convenient gas pumps, grocers and wholesale clubs are continuing to take market share from national gas retailers," MFI said, outlining 30 percent of survey respondents as frequenting wholesale club and grocer gas stations the most.

Interestingly, convenience of location narrowly edged out price as the most important consideration for consumers. While those were the biggest factors persuading drivers' steering wheels, ease of entry and exit, a feeling of safety, and cleanliness were also cited commonly.

"It’s no surprise to fuel brands that consumers care most about price and convenience, but what this research also points to is that consumers also make decisions based on the service they receive at their favorite locations," said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. "Cleanliness, friendliness, amenities—they all matter."

MFI also analyzed the leading gas stations in terms of the five factors that consumers consider most important: convenient location, fuel price, ease of entry and exit, feeling of safety, and cleanliness. It found that Costco, along with QuikTrip, ranked number one or two in nearly all categories.Casey’s General Store took the top spot for convenient location and second place for ease of entry and exit, while Sam’s Club was second in the highly important fuel price category.

"Costco's approach to gasoline is the same as inside the warehouse—high volume and low prices," Costco explains on its website. "One-way traffic makes it easier to get in and out of our stations quickly. Our extra long hoses allow fueling from either side of the vehicle, so there is no need to be concerned with which lane to choose."

MFI's survey was done in April 2013 across the United States and Canada. It included 7,633 respondents across a broad spectrum of income levels, with 60% reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year, and ages between 18 to over 65. Approximately 52 percent were men, 48 percent women, and nearly half had children at home. Fifty-three gas chains were studied.

You can view more specific results in the included graphs.

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