The growth in electric cars and renewable energy sources presents an opportunity for forecourt owners to expand their retail offer and become US-style “click and collect sites”.
The tactics from retailers and industry bodies come in response to comments over the future of forecourt retailing made during last month’s NFRN Scottish conference.
During his address to members, Müller Wiseman Dairies development director Sandy Wilkie said a convenience retailer had told him they saw ‘no future’ in running a forecourt, due largely to more drivers turning to electric cars over the next decade.
Adam Hogwood, who runs a Budgens forecourt store in Broadstairs, Kent, said he has seen little demand from electric car drivers at his business.
However, he added: “This could be an opportunity for forecourts, as they’re definitely aren’t enough charging points out there currently for electric cars.
“I think there’ll be a big change in technology on this over the next few years, and the government will no doubt bring in more legislation on fuel usage, so we need to keep an eye on it.”
Paul Baxter, NFRN chief executive, said there is no question the growth of electric cars is coming, but added that car ownership is also increasing along with fuel usage.
“Retailers that adapt and offer a good retail offer alongside their forecourts are the ones that will succeed over the next decade,” he added.
Meanwhile, Greg Deacon, independents sales manager at News UK, expects more forecourts to become US-style “click and collect sites” in the future.
He said: “You can pay for your fuel at the pump, then collect a drive-through coffee, Subway or food to go without leaving your car. If you can add more services, it’s a great way to differentiate.”
David Charman, owner of Spar Parkfoot in West Malling, said: “While the technology on electric cars is very interesting and they will become more economical in the future, it’s still far too new.
“When the infrastructure and the technology improves, that’s the time were it becomes viable to put it on your forecourt.”