NACSOnline - ELMONT, N.Y. – The approximately 110,000 independent gasoline retailers are reeling from decreased demand, high prices and warehouse club competition, the Wall Street Journal reports. U.S. consumption of gasoline has declined to an 11-year low, 4.3% below this time last year.
With demand decreasing, gasoline station owners are having tough times. “There have been times in the past month when I've been losing money for every gallon of gas I sell,” said Robert Fisher, co-owner of four Chevron convenience stores and gas station in Washington, Oregon and Arizona. “It's a very tough industry.”
Sales of convenience store items and higher swipe fees contribute to the lowered profits. “The less traffic we have on the outside translates to the less traffic we have on the inside,” said Steve Cohen, owner of a Mobil gas station and convenience store. Candy, beer and other inside sales has slid around 25% from a year ago. “The volume is just slowly fading away.”
The vast majority of U.S. gasoline stations are owned by individuals who purchase fuel from wholesale distributors. “I'm definitely hurting,” said Carl Betz. Gasoline sales at his Getty station are around 25% from 2011. “This is the worst business has ever been.”
Grocery stores and warehouse clubs like Costco have cut into gasoline sales, too, by offering pump prices at a low amount. “Five years ago, [large chain outlets with gas pumps] were essentially nonexistent,” said Fisher. “Today they're all over the place.”