December 20, 2023
5 min read

From Holiday Parties to Summer Road Trips: Comparing C-Store Innovations Designed for Seasonal Travelers

Every season brings new challenges and opportunities for convenience stores. While these retailers do indeed have regular daily customers, such as local commuters, major travel seasons are sure to shake things up.

There are two main travel seasons in the U.S.: the unofficial summer months ranging from May to Aug. and the winter holidays between Nov. and Jan. In fact, 80% of Americans reported taking a road trip last summer. Similarly, according to IPX, nearly half of Americans (44%) traveled for Thanksgiving 2023 and 84% planned to travel in Dec.

To support these high traffic seasons, c-store retailers need to tailor their offerings to the unique needs of consumers. Fortunately, with the right technology in place, convenience stores can be a valuable respite for weary travelers at any time of year. 


Targeted Recommendations for Holiday And Summer Travel

Shopper behavior varies drastically through the seasons. In the summer, shoppers may run into a convenience store for sunscreen and a slushy. Winter shoppers may be in search of a hot chocolate or hand warmers.

Regardless of the time of year, convenience retailers can demonstrate value to their shoppers through relevant recommendations.

To do so, retailers can analyze customer and transaction data from the same holiday time periods from previous years. Then, they can rely on AI, such as through GK AIR Personalization, to determine which personalized recommendations would be most effective. They can also use this same data from throughout the year to select the best outreach channel for each shopper; mobile, email, etc.

For example, if a consumer is using the c-store’s mobile app to order food in advance of their visit, they can be shown personalized recommendations. If someone orders a sandwich in the summer, they may be recommended their favorite cold drink at a discounted price. This will increase convenience for the consumer while increasing basket sizes for the retailer.

By anticipating seasonal behavior changes, retailers can make the most of all seasons. 


What Do Holiday Road Trippers and Summer Vacationers Have in Common?

The most important aspect of a c-store pitstop is always the convenience. Whether the shopper is in a hurry to catch a flight to the Bahamas or rushing to make it to Grandma’s house in time for Thanksgiving dinner, the c-store should not slow them down.
To support shoppers and get them back on their way quickly, convenience retailers should invest in point-of-sale (POS) technology that reduces lines.

For example, scanless technology like GK GO can remove lines altogether by empowering shoppers to take what they need and leave, automatically paying on their phones. This can free up employees who would usually staff the checkout counter to focus their efforts on other ways to improve the customer experience, such as by offering food samples or supporting shoppers who need extra help.

Other retailers might prefer to invest in self-scanning kiosks or mobile POS options that require less of a habit change for shoppers.

In addition, as convenience stores incorporate more EV touch points, these retailers should consider their unique seasonal needs. The storefront may serve as a chance to cool down in the summer or warm up in the winter while their car charges.

By personalizing the promotion of these seasonal comforts, alongside other unique in-store experiences, retailers can ensure they secure heightened market share during peak road trip seasons.


How C-Stores Can Meet the Ever-Changing Needs of Shoppers Across All Seasons

The convenience store is always evolving. What once was a brief pitstop is now an experience that includes EV charging stations, quick service restaurants and an engaging mobile customer journey.


As convenience retailers continue to advance their business, they must keep in mind the needs of shoppers year-round, especially during peak travel seasons.


To ensure your convenience and fuel business is prepared for next summer’s travel rush, contact GK today!