Convenience Store Decisions – Selecting an Optimal Location

By Bryant Ficek

In the September 2017 issue of Convenience Store Decisions, we were provided a couple page column to discuss traffic in relation to the selecting a location for a retail store, or more specifically a convenience store. Here’s the quick summary/intro of that article:

All you really need to know about the convenience store land use is in the name – convenience. Customers generally choose to visit these sites because of the ease and speed with which they can get in, get their product, and continue onward to their destination. Selecting the optimal location for a convenience store with just the right amount of convenient access and traffic volume, the “Goldilocks Zone”, can be challenging.

Our experience includes preparing traffic studies for convenience stores, gas stations, fast food stores, coffee shops, and various other types of ‘convenient’ developments. This work has given us a unique view on how the surrounding traffic volumes can impact a store’s success. So, what is the Goldilocks Zone for convenience store developments? In terms of traffic, our experience suggests the optimal convenience store location is adjacent to roads with between 5,000 and 15,000 vehicles per day. This is based on the expected pass-by traffic and the ability to obtain access to that public road.

The minimum value of 5,000 vehicles per day is based upon taking full advantage of pass-by traffic opportunities (jargon alert – pass-by traffic is the term for drivers already on the road that may stop at a development in the future). The higher the volume of the adjacent street traffic, the less of a percentage of that volume is necessary to satisfy the expected pass-by traffic numbers. For example, it is easier to capture 500 pass-by vehicles from a 5,000-daily volume road (10 percent) than a 1,000-daily volume road (50 percent).

The maximum value of 15,000 vehicles per day is based upon general access management guidelines for full access. At this level of existing or future projected traffic, the governing agency is likely to implement strategies the limit or eliminate the opportunity for direct, private drive access. To go a step farther than in the article, we submit limited access (3/4-access or right-in/right-out only) is available between 15,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day. Above 30,000 vehicles per day, only right-in access is possible and even that may be tough to obtain.

These traffic levels are a simplification to provide rough guidelines on locating a ‘convenient’ land use. Other important factors to consider include traffic control, vehicle speeds, sight lines, multi-modal options, and roadway geometry, to name a few. But starting with a site located next to a road with this level of traffic (or even at the corner of two such roads) is a good place to start.

Check out the full article here.