Forecourt shops are the home of snacking for the UK’s peckish drivers, new research from Palmer and Harvey has revealed.

Compared to regular suburban and town centre convenience stores, petrol stations sell two-and-a-half times as many sandwiches, one-and-a-half times as many savoury slices, 13% more confectionery and nearly double the number of energy drinks.

The analysis from Palmer and Harvey, which supplies 70% of the UK’s forecourts, found that snack items such as confectionery, soft drinks, sandwiches and crisps average 29% of a forecourt shop’s annual sales, compared to 17% of sales in convenience stores.

Among confectionery, Duo bars such as Bounty and Mars are some of the biggest sellers, with nearly 300% higher sales at petrol stations than at convenience stores. According to experts at Palmer and Harvey, drivers tend to buy these two-bar items so they can eat one immediately and save the other for later.

Martyn Ward, managing director of commercial & sales at Palmer and Harvey, said: “Forecourts are the snacking capital of the UK, as drivers are more likely to go for impulse purchases and pick up foods and drinks to consume right away.

“Rising fuel prices mean that motorists are likely to visit the forecourt more often to refuel, which means more opportunity to grow non-fuel purchases. This is why a lot of petrol stations should be focusing as much, if not more, attention on the shop than on the pumps.”

The research also uncovered several other categories where forecourt sales are leading the way: petrol stations sell nearly twice as much chewing gum as convenience stores, six times as many ‘grab bags’ compared to standard bags of crisps and 100% more 500ml bottles of soft drink, which are more attractive to motorists because they’re resealable.

“Forecourts are often the local convenience store to those who live nearby, but the drive-through shopper/refueller is still their key market,” continued Warn. “Motorists want to snack and petrol stations, which are still an endangered species with more closing every year, are more likely to succeed if they understand and cater to that market.”