Wawa is building a drive-thru unit

The convenience store chain wants to adapt to consumer habits that changed during the pandemic.
Photograph courtesy of Wawa Inc.

As part of its strategy to adapt to the retail realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience-store chain Wawa Inc. plans to build a 1,850-square-foot, freestanding, drive-thru-only convenience store in Falls Township, Pa., it has announced.

This model is solely focused on drive-thru and curbside pickup service where customers can use technology to quickly order Wawa’s most popular food and beverages, including value meals, combo meals, coffee and specialty beverages.

“Wawa continues to test new store concepts with this latest drive-thru format, providing an opportunity for our customers to still experience and enjoy their favorite Wawa products while remaining inside their vehicle,” said Terri Micklin, director of construction for Wawa. “It is critical to provide new ways to access Wawa, increase convenience and provide new options for service.”

The architectural design is based on key Wawa brand elements such as the trademarked canopy.

Wawa aims to begin construction in late August 2020 with a targeted opening date of December 2020. The location will provide employment opportunities to 25 people, including four full-time positions.

“We are hoping to learn from the layout, workflow and traffic flow at this location, as we continue to explore alternatives for longer-term application to our stores post-COVID-19,” said Micklin. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Falls Township officials, who are providing us with the approvals and support of this newly designed store format that will be of benefit to the community.”

In addition to this freestanding drive-thru, Wawa has also announced its plans to add a drive-thru feature to a new store currently under construction in Westhampton, N.J.

Wawa c-stores are located in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. The Wawa, Pa.-based company reached the milestone of its 900th store in June.

Drive-thrus have become increasingly popular among restaurant chains during the pandemic, with chains from McDonald's to Raising Cane's seeing strong sales through the window, while companies like Chipotle and Shake Shack opting to build their own versions of the window. Yet the Wawa drive-thru could further intensify competition between the convenience store chain and fast-food concepts as they both target the convenience-focused consumer. 

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