There are more than 18,000 BP fuel stations in 19 countries around the world. Most are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. So, if customers realize they’ve forgotten something crucial on a public holiday, BP’s service stations offer essential supplies for those last-minute purchases.
BP Magazine asked retail teams in seven countries what their customers are buying from BP outlets at Christmas...
The big day in Germany is December 24, known as Weihnachten or Heiligabend, when families gather to exchange gifts and eat together. Although it is mostly a normal working day, many tend to take the afternoon off in preparation for the evening’s celebrations and the two public holidays that follow.
BP has more than 2,500 Aral-branded blue and white service stations in Germany (and Luxembourg). Customers make the most of the Aral and REWE To Go in-store bakeries on Christmas Eve - with wheat bread rolls coming out top of the ranking for sales on December 24. Cigarettes and cans of energy drink take the second and third spots respectively.
The traditional Advent calendar, with its 24 doors to open in the countdown to Christmas, originated in Germany, as did many other festive traditions - including the modern image of Santa Claus.
Similar to their European neighbours across the border in Germany, the Poles start their festivities on December 24, called Wigilia. The main celebration involves dinner on Christmas Eve after the first star appears in the winter sky.
Soft drinks and cigarettes come in first and second place at BP’s 500+ retail sites in the country, with one-litre bottles of Coca-Cola proving most popular. Coming in third place, there’s the only vehicle-related product hitting our Christmas sales records - screen wash. Perhaps those sales reflect drivers preparing for the poor winter conditions during one of the coldest months of the year in Poland.
The Brits are thirsty over the Christmas break – for an interesting combination of drinks if BP customers are anything to go by.
By value, bottles of Prosecco are the number one seller from more than 300 company-owned sites across the country, the majority of which house M&S Simply Food stores. BP sales seem to support a national trend; in 2016, market research across the UK revealed that the country is a growing fan of the sparkling wine - and drinks two-and-a-half-times more Prosecco than Italy.
By volume, the top product sold in the UK is Red Bull, a caffeinated energy drink – with more than 9,000 cans flying off shelves on Christmas Day alone. Perhaps the prospect of a long day spent cooking, driving or entertaining the family requires some extra oomph.
In four out of the five states where ampm convenience stores operate at ARCO-branded gas stations, 12-packs of bottled beer are on the top of shopping lists after 6pm on Christmas Eve. Californians spend the most money on beer, followed by Washingtonians. Customers in Arizona spend the least on beer compared to their four Western state neighbours.
After the party starts with beer on Christmas Eve, sales shift to other products out west on Christmas Day itself. Cigarettes hit both first and second places in the list of top five sales - across all of the five ampm states. Coffee - in 24 ounce and 16 ounce cups - come in third and fourth place by sales value respectively, with beer pushed down into fifth place.
Falling in the height of summer, the Christmas season in Australia is the antithesis of any snow-covered traditional greeting card. In fact, 2016 saw the hottest December night in Australia since records began 150 years ago, with the mercury dipping down to ‘only’ 27.1˚Celsius – or nearly 81˚ Fahrenheit in Sydney.
It’s hardly surprising then that bottled water, soft drinks and energy drinks figure highly in the sales spike at BP service stations in the country on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Mainly though, Australian customers stop to buy ice from BP stores – with large ice ‘party bags’ topping the league table of sales.
More surprisingly perhaps, Wild Bean Cafe coffee makes the top ten – meaning hot drinks, or perhaps caffeine, is still popular in the summer.
Wild Bean Cafe is the biggest Fairtrade coffee retailer in New Zealand
The Kiwis love their coffee any day of the week – and the Christmas break is seemingly no exception. BP customers still stop to get their fix in the holiday season, with the Wild Bean coffee in large size proving the best-selling product over the two days at BP sites in New Zealand.
An energy drink and bottled water also make the top five ranking, as well as bagged ice (4th) – almost as popular as with their Australian neighbours across the Tasman Sea.
It appears that New Zealanders also like to arrive at their Christmas destination with sparkling clean wheels – as BP’s Megawash Ultra car wash is the third most popular purchase.
Informally, Christmas starts early in South Africa as there’s a national holiday on December 16 to mark the Day of Reconciliation, introduced in 1994 after the end of apartheid. From that date onwards, many people travel out of the cities and head for the coastline to make the most of the summer season when schools and businesses are closed.
Contrary to other times of the year, BP Express and Pick n Pay retail sites in coastal areas see a spike in sales, while inland hubs such as Johannesburg are quieter than the norm. BP’s convenience stores, especially those along major transit routes, see a boom in soda and energy drinks sales, but four different brands of cigarettes take the top seller spots.
From a special range of seasonal stock in Pick n Pay outlets, packs of deep-filled mince pies are the most popular products, followed by chocolate teddy bears and an own-brand brandy Christmas cake.
December 26 or 'Boxing Day' is also a national holiday, usually marked by braais or barbecues at the beach, around a pool or anywhere outdoors.