A bright future for roadside retailers

Recently the Federal Government announced its Future Fuels & Vehicle Strategy. It is a comprehensive report, however some of the key headlines were around the implementation of 50,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging points and investment into the electrical infrastructure to allow the grid to cope with the demand over time.

This then sparked some media commentators to suggest that the “petrol and convenience industry is about to have its kodak moment”.

I find it both frustrating and funny when uninformed commentators don’t do their research and provide balanced views on a topic. AACS members have been on a transformational journey for more than a decade in moving from petrol stations to convenience stores and ultimately into what we will refer to as roadside retailers.

The channel has seen a significant decline in ‘fuel only’ transactions over the last 10 years and the channel is now less reliant on ‘fuel’ being the driver of transactions and foot traffic. In fact, in our 2020 State of the Industry (SOI) Report, we highlighted that fuel only transactions now account for less than 40 per cent of the mix. This will continue and the mix of shop sales will ultimately be the reason consumers come to our stores.

The channel delivered almost $10 billion in retail shop sales in 2021. Both major brands and independent operators are investing heavily in new food offers for now and later, shop redesigns to accommodate seating, adopting the home delivery model and click-and-collect services, creating parcel delivery and pickup hubs, and in many cases becoming the place to get your daily coffee from.

In 2021, we saw foodservice achieve around $1 billion in retail sales. Our coffee offers continue to go from strength to strength, we played a key role in providing grocery products through the lockdown periods of the pandemic, functional beverages and better for me choices continue to gain traction, and this will only continue to grow as the offers strengthen. In some cases, foodservice and coffee is now delivering in excess of 35 per cent of total shop sales. Kodak moment, I don’t think so….

Back to EVs for a moment. We all understand that EVs, battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen will play a role in the future of fuels, however the car sales data for the month of September suggests that Australia will have some time before our sales of EVs get to the levels anticipated and being seen in some part of Europe. Some people might not know, however there are more than 20 million registered vehicles in Australia, of which approximately 15 million are passenger vehicles. Based on this, how far do you think 50,000 chargers will go to powering the country?

Sales by propulsion or fuel type

  • Petrol: 44,872, up 12.2 per cent
  • Diesel: 26,800, up 24.4 per cent
  • Hybrid: 6959, up 60.8 per cent
  • V minus Tesla*: 466, up 189.4 per cent
  • PHEV: 301, up 142.7 per cent
  • FCEV: Nil
  • Tesla refuses to supply sales information

Source: VFACTS industry data compiled by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) September 2021

The retail and supplier family of the petrol and convenience channel is stronger than ever, I have never been as excited about the channel as much as I am today!

This article was written by Theo Foukkare for the December/January issue of Convenience & Impulse Retailing Magazine.

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