New research from data and analytics group Lightstone shows that South African motorists are travelling less – covering shorter distances – but are also stopping at their favourite petrol stations more often.
According to the group’s data, which studied the behaviour of over 400,000 vehicles and traffic at over 3,100 service stations across the country, distance travelled by SA motorists over the last year declined by 7%.
However, service stations saw a 2% increase in traffic over the same period.
Linda Reid from Lightstone said that the increased traffic at service stations could be attributed to several factors:
“Consumers are either filling up with smaller amounts of fuel due to the exorbitant fuel hikes, or they are stopping more often for additional services that filling stations provide,” she said.
Climbing fuel prices
South Africa saw several successive fuel hikes, starting in April 2018 – with the hiking of various fuel levies – with the only hint of a cut coming in December 2018.
The petrol price hit an all-time high in October and November, where the price per litre of 95 octane petrol hit over R17 for the first time in South Africa’s history.
Rising fuel prices have put added strain on consumers and businesses alike, who are already under severe pressure from rising costs associated with the VAT hike to 15% in April, as well as a creeping economy.
A recent BusinessTech poll of 5,000 motorists found that the majority (76%) said that the higher fuel prices had forced them to change their driving habits.
However, Reid said that stopping for additional services could also be a reasonable explanation for the more frequent visits.
She noted that service stations have added more retail variety to forecourts, and there has been a growing “coffee culture” in South Africa which has been adopted in the last several years.
Lighstone’s data showed that drivers stop an average of 9.2 times per month and spend seven minutes on average per stop.
When analysing the frequency of visits to service stations, 11% of drivers visit service stations only once a month.
Meanwhile, around 27% of drivers visit service stations between two and four times per month and 44% frequent service stations between five and 14 times monthly.
“Drivers who stop at service stations more than 15 times per month amount to 18% of the total,” the group said.