Forty years ago the petrol filling station was an iconic landmark.
Post-war romantic visions of futuristic architecture were played out on the forecourt.
During the 1970s, these iconic stations were replaced by bland, generic formats owned largely by the major oil companies.
Architecture and service was rationalised and standardised across the world. In most regions, attended service was removed and customers were left to fill the car themselves.
More recently, the oil majors have stepped back from retail sites, focusing on franchising the forecourt operation to independents and the shop offer to well-known grocery brands.
At the same time supermarkets have taken significant market share by offering cheap fuel next to grocery shopping.
But retail has moved on…
While petrol retail has become bland and uniform, nearly every other retail experience, from banking to supermarkets to buying cars, has been revolutionised.
Shopping for fuel is one of the few experiences still termed as a ‘distress purchase’.
So what’s the future for the filling station?
Source: Circle Brands, UK (May 2010)