Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fill ’er Up—With Food and Fuel

Buying gas at a grocery store has never been my modus operandi. But fuel prices are forcing a lot of us to rethink our usual patterns.

In the upcoming November issue of Chain Store Age, we’re running a brief on Price Chopper’s loyalty plan that provides its shoppers with significant gas discounts at partnering fuel stations. Called AdvantEdge, the program gives shoppers a 10-cents per gallon gas discount in exchange for purchasing $50 worth of groceries. The fuel limit is 20 gallons.

Des Moines, Iowa-based HyVee is going Price Chopper one better. The regional grocer has rolled out a loyalty program at all stores with on-site HyVee gas stations. I’ve been told that the program varies from store to store, or market to market, but I know at least one store in one market that has brought gas prices to new lows.

I shopped a new HyVee near my home in Lincoln, Neb., last night, foregoing my customary trip to discount grocer Super Saver in favor of convenience. After purchasing about $200 worth of groceries, the cashier handed over my receipt with a tip: Take the receipt across the parking lot to the new HyVee convenience store/gas station, fill up, and get 15 cents per gallon off the listed gas price.

Had the food and fuel both been higher than I normally paid, HyVee’s deal wouldn’t have been so newsworthy. But I shopped carefully inside the food store, buying store brands and specials, and am convinced my HyVee grocery total didn’t exceed my usual Super Saver tally. And the regular price of the HyVee gas was $3.12/gallon—a penny lower than any other station on my side of town. So I filled up my car—and paid $2.97/gallon.

Though I ruefully shared a chuckle with the convenience store cashier about being excited over a gas price that approached $3, I still couldn’t help but feel elated, and a little smug, about the whole experience as I drove away.

I called HyVee this morning to confirm that the program is ongoing—and was told it is.

I do believe that I will establish a new pattern, one that involves pairing grocery shopping with a fill-up at my local HyVee.

By Katherine Field

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