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America's favorite gas stations are at grocery stores and warehouse clubs

Kroger and Costco do more business at the pump than ExxonMobil and Sunoco, according to a new study.

By Money Staff Jul 1, 2014 4:29PM

This post comes from Herb Weisbaum at partner site CNBC.

More Americans are fueling up at supermarkets and warehouse clubs instead of traditional service stations because of the competitive prices and loyalty-based discounts, according to a new survey.

Buying gas © Somos Image, CorbisThe report, conducted by Market Force Information, concludes that it's simply a matter of convenience, price—and cleanliness.

"None of us look forward to going to a gas station, so if you're there anyway and you can fill up, you feel like you're getting two things out of the way," noted Janet Eden-Harris, Market Force CMO. "And they're typically clean."

Market Force asked more than 5,300 motorists across the U.S. and Canada how satisfied they were the last time they pulled up to the pump and how likely they were to return. The results were averaged to create a Composite Loyalty Score.

Supermarket giant Kroger had the highest score of 79 (out of 100). Costco and QuikTrip (a chain of convenience stores located mostly in the Midwest and South) tied at 78. Sam's Club ranked third with a 76.

The major gasoline companies scored significantly lower.  Shell, the top-rated brand, scored a 59. Esso (Canada) scored a 58. Exxon Mobil rated a 56. BP and Chevron tied with a 55. Sunoco had a 54.

The survey found that 7-Eleven had the lowest satisfaction score of 47.

It's hard to beat location

Despite the high marks, supermarkets and wholesale clubs have an uphill battle when it comes to closing the deal. Many drivers said they end up going to a traditional gas station simply because it's closer to home.

When asked what they like about their favorite gas station, 61 percent of those polled said location while price was cited by 59 percent.

"Convenience is often an overarching consideration for consumers on the go, and it's difficult to beat the pervasiveness of the regional and national chains that dot every town across America." Eden-Harris said.

The motorists polled said they stopped at Shell more often than any other gas station in the past three months, but Market Force said that is mainly due to Shell's footprint. It has more than 25,000 locations across North America.

However, a good location doesn't create loyalty, the study noted. Market Force found that more than one-third (37 percent) of the respondents said they would drive past a gas station to fuel up at their favorite one. They said they'd be most willing to do that to fuel up at Costco, Sam's Club, Kroger, QuikTrip and Speedway (a convenience store chain owned by Marathon Petroleum with locations in nine states).

Courtesy CNBC

It's interesting to note that Costco (83), Sam's Club (73) and QuikTrip (70) scored the highest for competitive pricing, the second most important reason for choosing a gas station after convenience. Chevron (71) was seen as having the best quality fuel, followed by Shell (63).

Clearly location and price are the two biggest factors driving gasoline purchases, but Market Force found that cleanliness and service do play an important role.

"In fact, our data shows that clean restrooms, a friendly greeting and a thank you can actually double sales over locations that aren't performing," Eden-Harris said.

Here are the four favorite gas retailers by region as determined by the Market Force survey:

  • West: Costco, Chevron, Shell, Safeway 
  • Midwest: Speedway, BP, Casey's General Stores, QuikTrip
  • South: Shell, Kroger, QuikTrip, Exxon Mobil
  • Northeast: Exxon Mobil, Sunoco, Hess, Sheetz
  • Canada: Petro-Canada, Shell, Esso, Co-op

More from CNBC

Jul 1, 2014 9:09PM
Speaking of gas and groceries, did the price of groceries take a jump over this last week cause it seems to me it did.
Jul 1, 2014 9:43PM
Location is a very small aspect. Has everything to do with price.
Jul 1, 2014 6:54PM
If I am in the area, and in need of fuel, why wouldn't I get it where it is cheapest?
Jul 1, 2014 8:45PM
I heard America's favorite gas station is Hess. Where regular is a few cents less than average and air for your tire is free...
Jul 2, 2014 8:25AM
My personal favorites are Kroger because of the discounts that include senior discounts for their grocery products followed by Circle K or Speedway because I can grab a ready to go snack really cheaply for lunch when I am on the go.  When traveling the same applies with the addition of truck stops because of the restrooms and variety of products.  The mainline gas stations tend to be higher priced and even when they sell food items they are limited in variety in my opinion. 
Jul 2, 2014 8:55AM

"traditional service stations"

MSN is truly out of touch with the times.

Jul 2, 2014 10:36AM

By gasing up at Costo, as ot todays date, I saved .26 per gallon over the local Wawa station.  Generally the difference is .12 to .15.  By gasing at Costco I am saving approximately $700.00 a year.

That will pay for most of my auto insurance cost or could be a new TV and many other appliances.

Seems to me it's a no brainer on Costco over any other "gas station." 

Jul 2, 2014 10:50AM
I'll take Wally's filling station in Mayberry any day.
Jul 1, 2014 11:50PM
Here in Tucson, Frys grocery stores give nice discounts on gas. And we have the cheapest gas in the nation. Just wish we could get 'real' gas here instead of the ethanol crap.
Jul 2, 2014 12:06PM
In Texas it's Buc-ees hands down!! Nothing compares!!!
Jul 2, 2014 10:23AM

 No matter the subject on these forums we have the illogical blog that is of no value, political, ethnic, religious, sarcastic and infantile.

If you don't like MSN which is your perrogative, like TV, change your home page. Some of us don't whine, we move forward even when diversity stands in the way.

As far as the subject matter, we shop at Fry's Marketplace in Arizona and average 40-50 cents off per gallon every month and on senior day about another $10.00. Senior day is the first Wednesday of the month with free coffee and donuts at the entrance.

Jul 2, 2014 9:47AM

I am shocked that Safeway is listed as currently they are running a bit of a scam-----first it started with some stores not accepting your earned credits by charging you 10 cents more than you credits ----EX. if you earned 20 cents off at their pump you only got 10 cents off. And now they have another one------you save 10 cents per gallon if you pay with Cash while most pay with CC.

Yet if I travel another 5 miles to King Scoopers, as a member I always get 3 cents off, and if I save credits you get the whole value! I was a member of Safeway too, but shall not be shopping there as often due to this latest 10 cent cash or CC fluctuation! On a 22 gallon tank that 10 cents adds up!

Jul 2, 2014 5:26AM

Hy-Vee (Iowa and surrounding states) in cooperation with Casey's has a fuel savers program. Essentially every week certain Hy-Vee items offer cents off per gallon of gas bought at Casey's.

Minding your p's and q's one can save on groceries and gas.

Jul 1, 2014 7:45PM
If I eat a lot of beans, I get gas even at the local cafe or anywhere I eat. But, I like beans so I just eat and fart.
Jul 2, 2014 8:41AM
I have not bought a gallon of gas in 5 years my bike is free!
We do a ton of shopping with giant eagle, including gift cards for meals as those go towards points and then we fill up at their Getgo stations.
Jul 1, 2014 10:31PM
why not the make gas out of food, that could go to feed the poor who have no food.corn
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