"With this number of convenience stores in the US isign has plenty of room to grow."
The actual number of gas stations in the United States is a little difficult to pin down. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), of the country’s 151,282 convenience stores at the end of 2013, 121,658 sell fuel, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%. National Petroleum News (NPN), a trade publication, put the number of gas stations at 157,393 in 2011.
Only about 3% of the stations are owned by major integrated oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) or Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX). About 37% of U.S. gas stations selling branded fuels are owned and operated by licensed independent retailers, and more than half of all gas stations are owned by an individual or a family.
According to a survey of its readers published last October, NPN reported that 75% of retailers pump between 500,000 and 2 million gallons of motor fuels a year. The most common number of pumps at a gas station is eight, and the retailers’ biggest concern is credit/debit card fees.
The average gross margin on a gallon of fuel is $0.12, according to NPN, and net profit per gallon averages $0.07. That means that if a gas station owner pumps 1 million gallons of fuel in a year, his net profit is $70,000. Not bad, but not great either. And that is where the convenience stores enter the picture.