As the national economy continues to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis, Americans are hitting the road in droves: more than 47 million will travel this July 4 weekend, according to AAA. After more than a year of cancelling plans because of the virus, consumers are ready to celebrate this summer, meaning anticipated travel this coming weekend is up 40% year over year – the second-highest rate of Independence Day travel on record.
And while some are jumping back on planes, the vast majority are jumping behind the wheel instead. Americans – 91% – are loading up the proverbial station wagon, blasting the radio, and getting out of dodge the old-fashioned way. That’s the most car travel AAA has ever recorded for the July 4 holiday.
Now, it wouldn’t be a road trip without a stop for gas, so convenience stores should prep for heavy traffic, both at the pump and in the store, which raises the question: what are these travelers buying?
Surprisingly, it’s not the car snacks or coffee you might expect. According to Paytronix data, holiday travelers who stop at a c-store to fuel up are more likely to buy ice, drinks, and dreams: that is, literal ice, beer, and lottery tickets.
Compared to the average weekday or weekend shopper, holiday travelers boost ice sales by a whopping 25%. Next are lottery tickets at 8% and alcohol at 6%.
Conversely, demand for food service falls dramatically as travelers head out of town, dropping about 29%, as do grocery items by about 21%. Even snacks fall out of favor, with sales about 12% below average.
To sum it up: Americans are ready to party this summer, and might feel they’re owed some luck after a brutal 2020. C-stores can expect a rebound of the quintessential summer road trip this year, and would do well to stock up on the ice – stat.