Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I Can't Help It... Some Gas Station Stats

I don't want to rekindle the debate (here, here, and here) because we are not likely to agree, but in the course of looking up some other information yesterday, I noticed that the 1997 Economic Census numbers that we threw around in our previous debate about full-service gas station laws have been updated now with the 2002 Economic Census. If you recall, we agreed that self-serve stations are better able to sell ancillary goods through convenience stores, and thus more likely to have convenience stores.

So I thought I would put together the data of the number of gas stations by state and the number of gas stations with convenience stores by state, and see what it produced. Here's the list of the top 5 states in terms of the percentage of gas stations that have convenience stores attached:
% of Gas Stations w/ Conv. Store
South Carolina
I'm not sure what states you'd expect to see here, but they do seem to be southern, "hot" states. For what it's worth, the next 5 are also southern states (Tennessee, Georgia, Texas, Nevada, and North Carolina); Colorado (#11) and Wisconsin (#14) are the only nothern states in the top 15.

So what are the bottom 5 states? I think we certainly expect to see New Jersey and Oregon as the bottom two, and (one would guess) both with % far lower than anywhere else. For New Jersey, that turns out to be the case:
% of Gas Stations w/ Conv. Store
New Jersey
New York
I'm shocked that Oregon is not second behind New Jersey; in fact, Massachusetts has a lower percentage of convenience store gas stations than Oregon does. What's more striking is that Oregon has a % that is more than twice as high as New Jersey! Why is that? Looking at the states on that list (and Rhode Island just missed at 59.8%), I could only hazard a guess that small states (where short drives are more common, or a larger fraction of roads are highways?) are less likely to have convenience stores in their gas stations than big states, where people may get out and buy snacks/drinks/etc., if it is true that their average drives are longer. Of course, California is #37 on the overall list, so maybe that's a goofy theory....

How many convenience store-gas stations combos do you think Oregon would have in the absence of the full-service law? It's an interesting question, but at the very least there does seem to be a real difference between New Jersey and Oregon here.

P.S. I've lived my whole life in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York, and I would have guessed that a much higher fraction of gas stations have convenience stores in them. Three possibilities there: (a) the data are wrong (unlikely), (b) I'm not paying much attention (possible), or (c) I subconsciously choose to go to stations with convenience store to buy a Diet Coke when I fill up (extremely likely).


Blogger Tachyon Knave said...

Well as a resident of NJ, I would speculate that the number is low because when building new gas stations adding a conveinence store would be unwise because there are alreay enough conveinence stores around.

If you're building an Exxon next to a Wawa I don't think your Tiger Mart is going to do enough business to make it worthwhile.

I also believe Full Service does have a large contributing factor.

Complementary stats that show % of conveinence stores not in gas stations would be most interesting.

8/18/2006 5:45 PM  

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