Jan 3, 2022
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Gas station kings and queens are switching from coffee to beer

Gas station kings and queens are switching from coffee to beer

Photo: Alexander Ryumin / TASS

The idea of ​​allowing the sale of alcohol at gas stations has been discussed in the government for several years. This time, representatives of the filling business interested in this received a powerful ally in the person of the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation.

Head of ministry Nikolay Shulginov In an interview with the Russia-24 TV channel, he stated that his department supports the permission to sell low-alcohol drinks at gas stations, since this measure can increase the marginality of gas stations and improve their economy.

“According to our calculations, this will give about 0.3 rubles per liter an increase in the revenue of gas stations,” the minister said. “Considering that they have low margins, because wholesale prices sometimes go up, and they experience problems, this may improve the economics of the filling station.”

– Yes, this measure will help independent gas stations, they will increase the marginality of their own sales, – believes expert of the Center for Sectoral Economics of the Scientific Research Financial Institute Andrey Gordeev:

– Perhaps this decision is correct, because if you look at the current situation, the new year does not promise us any improvements. Foreign markets will again be quite volatile, which will affect our fuel market, primarily the wholesale one. And the increase in wholesale prices will gradually be transmitted to the retail segment. In addition, from January 1, the fiscal burden on the oil and gas sector will increase, since our excise taxes are growing, the damper is changing (the nominal price is increasing), and the MET (mineral extraction tax) is increasing.

This, of course, will not lead to a sharp increase in prices at gas stations, but will steadily occur gradually. Oil companies will be pricing in the increased fiscal burden. This will not happen in January, but gradually – in February-March. But, most likely, prices above the inflation rate will not be released. Although the cost of diesel fuel and kerosene is already prohibitive, but at the same time the prices for gasoline have calmed down a little. As is the case in winter, diesel fuel margins are shrinking, filling stations profit from the sale of gasoline, and vice versa in summer.

“SP”: – And now independent gas stations will improve their affairs by selling weak alcohol. But this will be used not only by them, but also by large gas stations owned by the giants.

– Yes, large oil companies will certainly take advantage of this.

“SP”: – What then is the trick if motorists are given the opportunity to buy beer or liquor at any gas station? Then they will again drive past independent gas stations. And the whole idea of ​​”beer” support will come to naught …

– I would not say so. Because the main advantage here is competitive price. And if independent retail cannot increase or decrease fuel prices, as large oil chains do, then with alcohol, the wholesale price is the same for everyone. And in retail it can even be reduced.

Yes, this will lead to a slight decrease in the margins from the sale of alcohol. But in general, taking into account the sale of other related products, traffic at independent gas stations will increase. Of course, a lot will depend on the conscientiousness in the process of selling alcohol at a gas station – at a specified time, in a specified place.

But the effect will be – part of the traffic will be diverted from large filling networks in favor of independent filling stations. Because, I would like to emphasize once again, VINKs (vertically integrated oil company – ed.) Have clear advantages in the fuel market, while the alcohol market does not. And at a loss, as, for example, with fuel, oil companies will not trade in alcohol. According to some managers, even at the current high prices, diesel fuel is now unprofitable when sold, but they continue to sell it. And with alcohol, they are unlikely to do that.

– Now the gas station receives more money from a cup of coffee than from filling a full tank of an average car. But adding beer to this proportion is hardly worth it, – believes Deputy Director General of the Institute of National Energy Alexander Frolov:

– Of course, in the current circumstances, independent filling networks that do not have their own oil refinery suffer the most. Wholesale prices for fuel have increased, although now they have dropped somewhat – for gasoline. Therefore, independent players complain and demand from the state to take various measures. But, if we look at the end result that independent players would like to get, we will see a simple thing – an increase in prices.

They interpret it this way: “We need to make prices more adequate to the current market realities.” And it seems like they would be happy with low prices, but since wholesale prices are high (why high is a separate topic), so do us something so that our retail prices can get higher. If you can’t let the prices go up, then do something so that we can earn extra money.

In the current period, the quality of motor fuel is no longer a competitive advantage. In a crisis, everything is decided by the price and the accompanying service, and, of course, the “wrapper” – the beautiful design of the gas station, a magnificent bouquet of related products – baked goods, soda, coffee, thematic magazines etc. And at the same time, if the prices for this are kept within the market or even slightly lower, especially taking into account marketing programs, then the average volume of pumping will be high (we are not talking about the wilderness – at a conventionally average gas station).

And so, if on one side of the street there is a gas station of a vertically integrated company – all decorated, with lights and a good interior arrangement, with a wide range of goods and amenities, and on the other side there is a “shack” of an independent gas station, then it is strange to hear complaints that you don’t go there. It is clear that they go where gasoline is cheaper and the gas station itself is better.

And now related products and services (car wash, tire fitting, express oil change etc.) become an important aid that allows you to increase the marginality of the business as a whole.

“SP”: – And what will happen next?

– If the gas station will rely on the sale of beer, then under some conditions, maybe this will play a serious role. But for gas stations with an already developed segment of related products, this is unlikely to give a significant increase. And it’s not obvious to me how effective this step is. Although, if this gas station is on the outskirts, which does not even have a coffee machine, then the sale of beer, of course, will somewhat increase its profitability. It is difficult to say how significant this will be, since such filling stations are the most vulnerable players in the fuel market.

Let’s consider this summary as a joke: if the sale of alcohol at gas stations is not allowed at night, then I would not expect any major breakthrough from such support. In addition, it is still difficult to predict how this will affect the increase in the number of accidents under the influence of alcohol. After all, someone will take an untouched bottle, bought at a gas station, to the house, and someone will not resist – it will open up on the way.

I think the first thing to do is to investigate this by looking at the post-launch statistics in the pilot region. But if you decide the issue fundamentally, then you do not need to engage in such dubious projects as alcohol at the gas station.

You just need to strengthen the ruble, and I guarantee you, as soon as the domestic currency levels out to 50 rubles per dollar, this will immediately have a positive effect on wholesale prices for motor fuel. Because the difference between sales in the domestic and foreign markets will immediately decrease. Accordingly, the tax pressure from this side will also decrease. And the pressure of external exchanges on the internal exchange will magically fall. But we can only hear that the weak ruble suits us.

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