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21st birthday of convenience shopping at the great British petrol forecourt shows a nation redefining leisure, and time off

It’s official: meeting friends, spending time with family, watching a movie, or going to the gym have all been joined by a new leisure pastime: a trip to the great British forecourt, according to UK first research out today from BP Connect / Wild Bean Cafe and the Future Foundation, to mark the 21st birthday of convenience shopping at the British petrol forecourt, launched in 1983*.

With 41 per cent of us spending more time ‘out and about’ than in 1983, and increasingly looking for new experiences, 16 million of us regard a trip to the forecourt as a new leisure experience, as it would appear to deliver ‘on the go’ satisfaction, making good use of personal time.

The 2004 British Leisure League**, published today, shows that 62 per cent of us now view ‘stopping for a break whilst travelling’ as an enjoyable experience, whilst washing the car (33 per cent) also makes it onto the league. Top of the league is spending time with friends or family (77 per cent), closely followed by keeping fit (72 per cent), and entertaining / cooking for friends (64 per cent). Ironing comes bottom - although more than one in four of us (27 per cent) are still more likely to view ironing as a leisure pastime compared to 21 years ago.

The 2004 British Leisure League
Ranked 1 Spending time with your family / partner: 77% more likely to
be seen as a leisure pastime compared to 21 years ago
2 Going to the gym / keeping fit: 72% more likely
3 Cooking for friends: 64% more likely
4 Spending time with relations: 63% more likely
5 Stopping for a break / time out when travelling: 62% more likely
6 Driving: 60% more likely
7 Shopping for food in a supermarket: 57% more likely
8 Cooking for yourself / your family: 56% more likely
9 Shopping for dinner on the way home: 47% more likely
10 Late night shopping: 47% more likely
11 Childcare: 44% more likely
12 Shopping at a convenience store / local shop: 38% more likely
13 Shopping at a forecourt: 37% more likely
14 Washing the car: 33% more likely
15 Ironing: 27% more likely

Comments Charlotte Cornish, Research Director at the Future Foundation who undertook the study for BP Connect: “A trip to the forecourt and convenience shopping are becoming new leisure pastimes, as they offer the necessary balance of ‘time oasis’ and ‘convenient solutions’, in a country of wider choice, greater perceptions of time pressures and increased personal wealth. They occupy unusual ‘territory’ in everyday life, as they are a mix of ‘everyday, chore and interest’, which means we view them as a good way to spend time.”

The 2004 SatisTime Index
To mark the 21st anniversary of the first British forecourt convenience shop, The Future Foundation and BP Connect also developed a new index which ‘rates’ the amount of time spent doing an activity compared to the level of satisfaction gained from it, to deliver a time spent, satisfaction gained rating.

The study derives from work done in Texas by American academic Lee Burns, who developed the US version - the Gazinta Index. What is becoming increasingly important is that people obtain greater satisfaction from leisure activity, which helps with time management. When set against this index, the ranking of the new leisure activities receives a dramatic new order.

The 2004 BP SatisTime Index
Ranked 1 Shopping at a convenience store / corner shop
2 Snacking
3 Anticipating what you are going to eat
4 Stopping for a break / time out while travelling
5 Shopping for dinner / food on your way home
6 Shopping at a forecourt
7 Keeping up with your relations
8 Cooking for yourself / your family
9 Shopping for food in a supermarket
10 Exercising
11 Journey to and from work
12 Driving
13 Watching TV
14 Spending time with your partner
15 Working

The BP SatisTime Index shows that everyday activities take on a new meaning when time input is taken into account. In theory, compared to 21 years ago, we’d all like to be spending time with family or partner, keeping fit, cooking for friends. In reality, pressures on our time force us to re-appraise the balance between input and output.

The ability to get maximum satisfaction from the minimum time input becomes crucial to any activity’s satisfaction. Hence, shopping at a convenience store (Ranked 1) or forecourt (Ranked 6) come out considerably above shopping in a supermarket (10), because shopping in a supermarket takes much longer and the satisfaction gained is too low to move it up the ranking. Snacking comes second - the instant hit.

Stopping for a break / time out while travelling comes fourth because the advent of decent motoring rest places such as Wild Bean Café at BP Connect have enabled everyone to stop for a short amount of time and get a quality cup of coffee, a decent sandwich or baguette or a hot snack or sweet treat, rather than being forced to buy a bar of chocolate or packet of crisps, which is all that was available 21 years ago.

Exercising, driving and watching TV all come way down the list (Ranked 10,12 & 13 respectively) because they all require a high time input, therefore their overall satisfaction level drops. Spending time with your partner comes second bottom: initially surprising, but bearing in mind the time input necessary - how many times have we all heard “we need more quality time” - maybe it’s not such a surprising result after all. Bottom of all comes work - and no surprises there!

Sheila Williams, Press Officer BP Retail (BP Oil UK) said: “Millions of customers use a BP service station as part of their daily lives. We know that many people actively enjoy stopping at a forecourt because of the phenomenal success of Wild Bean Café located within our BP Connect stores. Who would have thought en-route retailing would have come so far in 21 years?”.

- ends -

* JET opened the first convenience store on a forecourt under the Jiffy brand name, at Swanley in Kent - 21 years ago
** ICM/The Future Foundation. Base 1,011 adults aged 18+, GB 2004
The 2004 British Leisure League: proportion believing that various activities are more likely to be classed as an everyday leisure activity today than 21 years ago

David Page T: 020 7153 5603
M : 07767 227003
Johnny Pitt T: 020 7153 5607
M: 07887 875402

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