HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Convenience stores are a part of the cultural fabric of Pennsylvania. "As a son of Pennsylvania, I can associate a convenience store with nearly every stage of life to date: Sheetz, childhood; Turkey Hill, college; Wawa, Philly; 7-Eleven, D.C.; Rutter's, present day," said Brock McCleary, founder of Harrisburg, Pa.-based Harper Polling.
The polling company asked in a telephone survey, "Which of the following convenience stores is your favorite: Sheetz, Rutter's, Wawa, Turkey Hill or 7-Eleven?"
The result? Sheetz in a landslide.
In a Jan. 7 poll of 798 registered voters in the Keystone State, 51% named Sheetz their favorite c-store. About half that, or 26%, named Wawa as their No. 1 choice. Turkey Hill got 13% of the vote. 7-Eleven was fourth with 7%. Fifth was Rutter's, with 3%.
"The competition for customer loyalty is fierce among a great collection of convenience store chains," McCleary said.
With the exception of Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley, Sheetz finished first or second in every other region. "[It has] the state blanketed, and anyone who lives here knows that Sheetz has been ahead of the curve in the rush to build virtual quick-stop campuses," he said.
Sheetz's popularity is strongest in Pittsburgh/Southwest and Erie/Northwest at 88% and 80%, respectively. Men are more likely (54%) to rate Sheetz as their favorite store than women (49%). While women are more likely (30%) to pick Wawa than men (21%).
Wawa's regional dominance in the Southeast is "unmistakable." It's the top pick of the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia at 60% and 88%, respectively.
Both Turkey Hill and 7-Eleven had respectable showings, said Harper Polling, with both taking three second-place finishes across the state. Turkey Hill won the gold in Scranton/Northwest with 63%. Rutter's, the underdog, took a solid third place in its home region of Harrisburg/South Central.
Republicans are 15% more likely to call Sheetz their favorite store (59% to 45%), while Democrats are 11% more likely to pick Wawa over Republicans (31% to 20%). "This all stands to reason when you consider the geographic strength of the two chains: Southeast = Democrats and Southwest = Republicans," said McCleary.
See File Attachments below for more detailed polling data.
Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz Inc. has 432 stores in Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.
Rutter's Farm Stores is a third-generation, family-owned business based in York, Pa., operating 57 c-stores in six central Pennsylvania counties.
Lancaster, Pa.-based Turkey Hill Minit Markets, owned by The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, has 269 c-stores in Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio.
Wawa, based in Wawa, Pa., is a chain of more than 600 convenience retail stores (300 offering gasoline) located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia and Florida.
7-Eleven, Dallas, operates, franchises or licenses more than 9,700 c-stores in North America.