Roadside retail was in the fast lane before Covid-19 struck. UK petrol forecourt property value grew by 3% in 2019, its eighth consecutive year of growth, according to the Barber Wadlow/Experian Catalist Forecourt Property Index. This is being driven by growing profits, which were also up 3% in 2019.
Pay at pump terminals are also key to improving vehicle circulation and ensuring customer flow is not stifled by the growing range of goods and services on offer. So too is ‘pay and spray’ contactless technology, allowing motorists to pay for jet washing their cars without needing to queue in store. Many operators are installing banks of up to five jet washes on mostly residential sites because of the boost to profits they can deliver.
It may come as a surprise that services like this, along with offerings such as coffee and food to go, are playing a greater role in the growing size of forecourt sites than technology that’s expected to eventually revolutionise the way world gets from A to B: electric vehicles (EV).
“We’re in a chicken-and-egg situation regarding the provision of reliable charging points nationwide which address consumer anxieties around range versus the inevitable explosion in electric cars with bigger batteries,” says Phil Blackford, head of automotive & roadside at property and planning consultancy Rapleys.
Indeed, just 0.5% of the UK’s licensed cars were ultra-low emission vehicles such as pure electric or plug-in electric/petrol or diesel hybrids in 2018, according to Department for Transport figures.
Yet by 2030 this is expected to have grown to between 7% and 27% and to between 49% and 89% by 2040, predicts the National Grid. One reason for the gap between the highest and lowest expectations for EV take up is the scale of the barriers that need to be overcome.
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