The PetrolPlaza audio version is presented to you by UNITI expo 2021, the leading retail petroleum and car wash trade fair in Europe.

Doom, gloom, positivity and preparation

When someone asks you do you want the good news or the bad news first, what do you say? According to Angela Legg, a Ph.D. student in psychology at the University of California, 75% of people want to receive bad news first, as waiting for bad news makes people anxious.

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Makes sense, so here it is. The bad news first:

  • Volumes and profits are down
  • Some station owners will go out of business
  • Global markets will likely shrink this year
  • If you have a pension or savings your net worth has likely reduced significantly
  • Saddest of all, thousands of people have lost their lives (and more still are likely to)

Sincere apologies to the 25% of you who wanted the good news first. And for the 75% of you who like to finish on a high instead, we are still going somewhere with this.

Whilst it might seem difficult for some to see a light at the end of the tunnel, there is plenty to be positive about too.

Volumes, whilst taking a big hit as lockdown settled in are once again on the rise on both sides of the Atlantic. For example in the UK we have seen a strong increase since the announcement that lockdown will be relaxed. Looking at last Monday vs this Monday and last Tuesday vs this Tuesday we have seen a volume increase across our user’s stations and we expect this to grow over time.

It is likely that there will be a rise in the number of car users, especially those entertaining the idea of a second-hand car purchase to get to work. This is also great for retail sales as these hygiene-conscious commuters are likely to opt out of making multiple stops – particularly at large supermarkets – to account for grocery shopping.

Coupled with the fact that oil is likely to remain cheap for the foreseeable future, (particularly outside the US where you can not just turn on and off shale like a tap) means that driving could be the transportation of choice for many. Certainly in the UK, buying a second hand car and putting 99ppl ($4.50 per gallon, which due to fuel duty is cheap for the UK) fuel in your tanks could work out as a saving versus annual train passes that peak at £11,000 on certain routes.

And whilst governments face pressure on climate change the mandating of EV as a desired form of transport will likely suffer as countries seek to get their economies back on track and take advantage of cheap fossil fuels.

Whilst cases will most certainly rise again, what this lockdown has done worldwide is buy us time. This means that whilst a second wave is likely we will be better prepared and able to function in this new world without the same extreme measures.

So how does one prepare for this new world?

As always, understanding consumer behaviour will be key to success. According to This Is Money two in five drivers in the UK are concerned about handling petrol pumps as lockdown lifts. Responding to new consumer demands with innovative products like GripHero will help make your offering a preferred destination.

Knowing that a second lockdown and reduction in volumes is a possibility is also key. We should all be encouraged to invest where we can, but prudently and in particular in technology and automation that can show returns on investment. Outside of our own beloved EdgePetrol, wet stock managers and electronic shelf labels spring to mind. Being able to do things remotely at times might become a way of life.

By Mark Truman, Chief Revenue Officer at EdgePetrol

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