Special Report

The Most Popular Stores in America

15. 7-Eleven
> Pct. of consumers visiting in April:
> Number of U.S. stores: 7,800
> Store category: Convenience stores

In a given month, 15.1% of American consumers visit a 7-Eleven, making the convenience store the 15th most popular store in the country. 7-Eleven claims to dominate the world’s branded 24-hour convenience stores with half the market share. The company, which is controlled by Japan-based President Chain Store Corporation (PSC), employed 29,903 people worldwide as of the middle of last year. Of the 7,800 7-Eleven U.S. locations, 6,400 are franchises.

In the United States, men are more likely than women to visit a 7-Eleven, one of only a few stores reviewed where this is the case.

14. Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW)
> Pct. of consumers visiting in April:
> Number of U.S. stores: 1,857
> Store category: Home improvement stores

Lowe’s is one of numerous hardware stores, lumber yards, and garden centers included in the building material and garden equipment subsector. The industry was worth an estimated $332.1 billion in 2015, up by 4.2% from the year before. Hardware-related sales at the home-improvement giant, however, are a small share of its total market and total sales. In addition to hardware, Lowe’s sells a broad array of home-related goods.

Home prices and demand for home improvement supplies can significantly impact Lowe’s business. With the ongoing economic recovery and housing market on the mend, Lowe’s posted sizable sales increases in recent years. The company reported revenues of $59.1 billion in fiscal 2015, up from $56.2 billion the previous fiscal year.

13. Wendy’s (NASDAQ: WEN)
> Pct. of consumers visiting in April:
> Number of U.S. stores: 6,112
> Store category: Restaurants

The first Wendy’s opened in Columbus, Ohio in 1969. Now, nearly half a century later, Wendy’s is one of the most popular restaurant chains in America, with locations in every state and the District of Columbia. Wendy’s is one of several fast food restaurants to rank among the most popular stores in the county. In a given month, 16.9% of American consumers go to a Wendy’s location, including the restaurant’s drive-through service. Shim noted that while the foot traffic measurement only counts customers once, the popularity of restaurants is due largely to the high frequency of visits.

As is the case with the majority of the most popular stores in the country, Wendy’s advertising budget is large compared to most U.S. stores. The company spent $284.1 million on marketing in 2014, among the top 50 advertising spenders for that year.

12. Shell (NYSE: RDS-A)
> Pct. of consumers visiting in April:
> Number of stores: 43,000 (worldwide)
> Store category: Major integrated oil & gas

The price of oil plummeted in the middle of 2014 and remained relatively low throughout 2015. As a result, Shell’s revenue, like those of other oil and gas companies, declined. This has not prevented American drivers from visiting gas stations, however. With 18% of Americans visiting a Shell station in a given month, the store is the 12th most popular nationwide.

The vast majority of American adults own a vehicle and drive on a regular basis, and the high frequency of gas station visits helps Shell’s popularity. Not only that, but U.S. auto sales were at an all-time high at the end of 2015, and low gas prices have encouraged greater gas consumption in recent years.

11. The Home Depot (NYSE: HD)
> Pct. of consumers visiting in April:
> Number of U.S. stores: 1,977
> Store category: Home improvement stores

The Home Depot’s financial success largely depends on the stability of the housing, residential construction, and home improvement markets. Based on Home Depot’s recent financial results, the housing market — or at least the home improvement market — is in full swing. The home improvement giant posted profits of more than $7 billion in its most recent fiscal year, up from $6.3 billion the previous year. Like most of the nation’s most popular stores, The Home Depot outspends most U.S. stores on advertising. The company spent $401.2 million on advertising in 2014, down by 11.5% from the previous year but still the 30th largest advertising expenditure nationwide.

Women are more likely than men to shop at the most popular stores. However, 54% of Home Depot visitors in a given month are men, one of the the few stores where men represent the majority of traffic.

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