Drivers in the US and Canada prefer to fill up with fuel at grocery stores and wholesale clubs rather than at traditional filling stations, according to a study by Market Force Information, a customer intelligence specialist.

The annual poll of more than 5,300 consumers found that Kroger is the favourite fuel retailer, with Costco (which has just opened its first UK forecourt) and QuikTrip tied for second, and Sam’s Club ranking third.

Shell was the highest ranked oil major, in ninth place, followed by Esso, Exxon Mobil, and BP.

Customers cited competitive prices and loyalty-based discounts as reasons for preferring grocery and wholesale retailers over traditional filling station chains, but said they would often use the traditional filling stations because of convenience.

“The rise of grocery and wholesale clubs is formidable in the petro-convenience sector, with the ability to use loyalty cards and point systems driving consumers to fuel where they perceive they get better value,” said Market Force chief marketing officer Janet Eden-Harris.

“However, convenience is often an over-arching consideration for consumers on the go, and it’s difficult to beat the pervasiveness of the regional and national chains that dot every town.”