Giant Eagle Gives Convenience Retailing A Go Worth Watching

“Get in, get out and get going.”

That’s the tagline for Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle’s 100-unit chain of convenience stores/fueling stations.
 With gasoline prices at about $3 or more a gallon, the chain’s fuelperks! gasoline discount program does indeed have people going to GetGo in rather substantial numbers.
According to an NPD Group analysis reported in the, GetGo racked up an “impressive spike” in gasoline sales in the year or so since the incentive program was implemented. With fuelperks!, Giant Eagle and GetGo loyalty card users can save 10 cents per gallon of gasoline for every $50 worth of purchases they make at the supermarkets and c-stores.
In 2005, 1.6 million customers redeemed fuelperks! rewards, according to Giant Eagle. Not surprisingly, the loyalty program has also led to same-store sales increases for GetGo.
Giant Eagle ventured into the convenience-store business about three years ago, and according to marketing director, Derek Gaskins, “GetGo is aggressively growing. We plan to continue to grow in markets throughout our supermarket footprint [primarily in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio].”  
There are two GetGo formats — pad sites, which are located in the parking lots of existing Giant Eagle supermarkets, and standalone stores. Format sizes range from 200 square feet to 4,500 square feet.
Candy at GetGo
Candy has a strong presence in GetGo stores, which feature both a front-end set and an in-line candy section. Fortunately, says Gaskins, the high price of gasoline and resulting hit on shoppers’ discretionary income has not had a negative impact on candy sales. The chain has promoted candy at the pump on fuel nozzles and pump toppers. In the stores, says Gaskins, “Our 2 for $2 king-size candy promotions have worked especially well.  
“The candy category is important and growing,” he observes.
“Many of our stores have novelty endcaps,” Gaskins continues. “We also have kids’ general merchandise items on a seasonal basis. Given our ability to attract Giant Eagle customers, kids’ products are important to our mix.”
He lists theater packs, king-size bars and portable items as among the most popular candy types. A total of more than 300 candy SKUs are featured at GetGo.
The larger-store GetGo formats have an airy, open look, and feature GetGo Kitchens, where salads, sandwiches, wraps and bakery items are prepared to each customer’s specifications. A small dining area is included as well.
The Giant Eagle corporate connection is strong. A variety of corporate brand items are sold, including coffee under the chain’s new Market District banner, which is used on an assortment of premium items in the supermarkets.
“Due to limited counter space and our desire to maintain a clean, easy-to-navigate store, we do not do as much with countertop displays and floor shippers as other retailers,” says Gaskins. “Special promotions or seasonal promotions may warrant more space, but for the most part, we go with a clean-store policy,”  Gaskins adds.