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Food to go’s relevance to petrol forecourt convenience stores is on the wane in favour of top-up and treat missions, the latest research based on shopper perception indicates.

Him’s Winning in Forecourts 2018 report identifies a consistent decline in the relevance of food to go to forecourt stores over the past five years.

The volume of shoppers highlighting food to go as their main reason for visiting a forecourt fell from 22% to 19%.

Top up has grown from 12% to 21%, usurping fuel which has dropped from the leading mission to fourth place. The volume of shoppers highlighting fuel as their main reason for visiting a forecourt has dropped from 33% to 15% over five years.

Treat, although the smallest mission, has doubled share to 14% since 2013.

The research, which was based on 2,000 forecourt shopper interviews across 10 different fascias, relied on shoppers’ perception of “food to go” and “treat” as missions and there is an overlap between food to go and treat.

Val Kirillovs, research & insights director at Him, said: “Forecourts haven’t been able to rely on purely fuel to drive footfall for some time. However, food to go has long been considered as key to forecourt retailers and a huge area of focus. While both missions still remain important, the main reason that shoppers are visiting is changing.”

He said it was vital forecourt retailers understood their individual shoppers and adapted to their needs.

“Retailers need to place greater focus on range and merchandising in order to inspire shoppers. Stocking core top-up lines and using in-store theatre to drive the treat mission are key to success.”