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Convenience Stores Tap EV Chargers to Capture Spending

EV charging station

Convenience retailers are seizing on the electric vehicle (EV) charging opportunity to drive sales, as consumers wait around with little to do but shop.

Last month, for instance, Texas-based convenience store chain Buc-ee’s, which has nearly 50 locations, announced a strategic agreement with Mercedes-Benz for the latter to build charging hubs at most of the retailer’s existing travel centers, with approximately 30 hubs expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

Indeed, this occasion presents a chance for convenience stores to capture consumers’ spending. As vehicle owners wait around for their cars to charge, they have little to do but head into the store that is right there and browse, grab a snack, or pick up items they have been meaning to buy.

To that point, according to an EVgo report last year, 80% of electric vehicle drivers shop while they charge their vehicles. Plus, according to a fact sheet from the Biden-Harris administration back in February, there are estimated to be more than three million EVs on the road, marking a significant market opportunity.

Additionally, owners of these vehicles tend to be higher-income consumers, with more cash to burn.

“The EV early adopter profiles are a company’s dream: established, affluent, college-educated people (mostly men) living in the largest car markets in the country: California, Texas, Florida, and New York,” PYMNTS’ Karen Webster wrote in a recent feature.

Leading industry players are looking to capture these occasions. Earlier this year, for example, convenience retail giant 7-Eleven announced 7Charge, billed as a “proprietary EV charging network and app” that is part of the ambition to build out what it termed to be “one of the largest and most compatible electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging networks of any retailer in North America.”

In fact, it is not just convenience stores looking to capture this opportunity. Also earlier this year, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, announced that is expanding its electric vehicle charging capabilities, building a network of stations across the United States.

“With our chargers located on site with our Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets and Sam’s Clubs, we can offer customers and members the convenience of being able to pick up essentials for their families or grab a bite to eat while they charge,” Walmart Senior Vice President, Energy Transformation Vishal Kapadia wrote in an announcement at the time.

Restaurants, too, are looking to capture these occasions, capturing consumers for long enough for them to, say, stop in for a meal. Quick-service restaurant (QSR) giant Subway in February announced a partnership with GenZ EV Solutions to create an “EV Charging Oasis,” with picnic tables, restrooms and more.

“Our partnership with GenZ EV Solutions is a win for our guests, our franchisees and our planet, creating a dedicated space for drivers to charge their vehicle while enjoying their favorite Subway sandwich,” Mike Kappitt, chief operating and insights officer at the restaurant chain, said in a statement.

From convenience stores to mega-retailers to restaurant chains, merchants are seeing the opportunity to capture idle consumers’ loyalty when they have little else to do but make purchases, and they are seizing on it.