Data Report: American Drivers Head to Walmart More Than Any Other Destination

When Americans hit the roads heading somewhere other than work, a safe bet says they have one destination in mind:

Walmart.

That’s because the nation’s biggest retailer is also the most popular destination for the nation’s motorists, a study of navigation app voice searches from 2015 to 2018 reveals.

Drivemode’s data team analyzed verbal searches from 876K anonymized Android drivers, excluding requests for “home” or “work,” and ranked the twenty most common requests nationally and in ten states. The voice-searches are called “requests” or “requested destinations” for this report.

Here are some of key findings:

  • Drivers request Walmart more than any other destination; three times more often than the next most popular destinations of McDonald’s and Costco.
  • Nearly one-half of all drivers’ requests are to just nine businesses: Walmart, McDonald’s, Costco, The Home Depot, Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Lowe’s, and Walgreens; those destinations account for 48.85% of all voice-searched navigation requests.
  • Nationally, the most popular destination categories are grocery stores (30.13%), fast food restaurants (21.29%), and consumer shopping (17.40%). Other categories include banking, gas, school, and places of worship. For the purposes of this study, Walmart, Target, and Costco were included in the category of Grocery stores
  • Nationally, drivers going to Walmart were most likely to go to McDonalds over any other destination within the same month. Despite the national popularity of Walmart, US drivers going to Lowe’s were more likely to also go to Home Depot than to Walmart within the same month.
  • Regional variations make some businesses unusually popular in certain states:
    • In-N-Out Burger, a burger chain whose stronghold is the southwest and Pacific coast, is the fourth and third most popular destination in California and Texas respectively, though nationally the burger chain is only number fifteen.
    • In Georgia, where Chick-fil-A is headquartered, it comes in at number five among most popular destinations; it is sixteenth nationally.
    • In New Jersey and Pennsylvania, WaWa, an east-coast grocery chain, is a top-five destination. It doesn’t crack the top twenty nationally.

“What motivates American drivers? Commutes and commerce,” said Yo Koga, Drivemode CEO. “If they’re not driving to work, this new study shows that Americans get behind the wheel to spend money somewhere, mostly on food. They’re especially drawn to large businesses like Walmart and McDonald’s that advertise extensively and are available, accessible, and convenient in most American communities. In light Amazon’s e-commerce success, it’s clear that consumers still enjoy selecting their produce with their own hands or being served a hot burger and fresh fries.”

“While some Americans are driving to run other errands, like to the post office or the bank, that’s not nearly as common as retail-related trips,” said Koga. “This study underscores just how much traffic on America’s roadways can be attributed purchasing habits, particularly when the purchases are edible.”

The table below shows the overall percentage for the most frequently requested destinations nationwide, as well as the relative percentage within that business category:


Rank
Top 20 most requested businessesPercentage of requests nationwideBusiness CategoryPercentage of requests nationwide, within business category
1Walmart16.75%Grocery43.38%
2McDonald’s5.69%Fast Food27.22%
3Costco5.20%Grocery14.86%
4The Home Depot5.08%Shopping22.51%
5Target4.44%Grocery9.84%
6Starbucks3.57%Fast Food12.51%
7Best Buy2.84%Shopping12.28%
8Lowe’s2.83%Shopping11.54%
9Walgreens2.44%Shopping9.23%
10US Post Office2.38%N/AN/A
11Shell1.99%Gas18.21%
12CVS1.84%Shopping6.72%
13Sam’s Club1.84%Shopping6.98%
14Taco Bell1.67%Fast Food4.91%
15In-N-Out Burger1.52%Fast Food4.89%
16Chick-fil-A1.51%Fast Food4.99%
17Wells Fargo Bank1.48%Banking30.86%
18Wendy’s1.47%Fast Food4.76%
19Burger King1.43%Fast Food5.81%
20BP1.43%Gas13.08%

The following table shows the five most popular navigation voice searches in ten states.


Rank By State
Top 5 most requested businessesPercentage of driver requests overall, per state
CALIFORNIA
1Costco9.99%
2Walmart8.60%
3Target6.58%
4In-N-Out Burger6.01%
5McDonald’s5.50%
FLORIDA
1Walmart20.05%
2McDonald’s5.58%
3The Home Depot5.08%
4Starbucks3.55%
5Lowe’s3.43%
GEORGIA
1Walmart18.99%
2Kroger9.30%
3The Home Depot6.20%
4McDonald’s4.65%
5Chick-fil-a3.88%
NEW JERSEY
1Walmart10.35%
2The Home Depot7.63%
3Wawa5.99%
4Target4.90%
5Best Buy4.63%
NEW YORK
1Walmart11.91%
2The Home Depot8.31%
3McDonald’s6.07%
4BP5.84%
5Dunkin’ Donuts4.49%
NORTH CAROLINA
1Walmart22.51%
2Target4.98%
3Lowe’s4.98%
4McDonald’s4.33%
5Best Buy3.68%
OHIO
1Walmart13.76%
2Speedway7.30%
3Kroger6.74%
4McDonald’s6.18%
5Best Buy5.06%
PENNSYLVANIA
1Walmart21.45%
2Wawa8.46%
3Target6.65%
4Lowe’s4.53%
5CVS3.93%
TEXAS
1Walmart17.94%
2The Home Depot6.12%
3 In-N-Out Burger4.94%
4McDonald’s4.94%
5Starbucks4.30%
WASHINGTON
1Costco13.32%
2Walmart12.09%
3The Home Depot6.15%
4Starbucks6.15%
5Lowe’s5.33%


DESTINATION CORRELATIONS ACROSS THE U.S.

Drivers who request certain destinations are prone to have other favorite destinations, too.

To find these relationships, Drivemode aggregated, indexed, and ranked driver destinations then mapped those destinations to each other to show the frequency of visits to businesses on a monthly basis.The strongest correlations between these destinations— what are called “co-occurrences” for when a driver visits both businesses within a month—are ranked below by frequency on a national level for US drivers in aggregate.

RankStrongest driver relationships between businesses nationally (most co-occurrences)
1Walmart & McDonald’s
2Walmart & The Home Depot
3Walmart & Target
4The Home Depot & Lowe’s
5Walmart & Costco
6Walmart & Walgreens
7The Home Depot & Costco
8Walmart & Dollar Tree
9Walmart & Kroger
10Walmart & Lowe’s
11Walmart & Sam’s Club
12Walmart & Wells Fargo
13Walmart & Starbucks
14Walmart & Best Buy
15Walmart & Shell
16Walgreens & CVS
17Walmart & Aldi
18Walmart & Dunkin Donuts
19Walmart & Taco Bell
20Walmart & US Post Office

The word network below visualizes these correlations between destinations. The larger the word indicates its overall popularity, while the thicker the line between destinations indicates frequency of co-occurrence.

State-by-state trends were also analyzed to show the strongest relationships between popular businesses for drivers. Below is a sample set of these regional findings, reflecting the top ten states that showed the strongest, most frequent relationships between businesses.

Rank By StateStrongest driver relationships between businesses (most co-occurrences)
CALIFORNIA
1Costco & Walmart
2Target & Costco
3Walmart & In-N-Out
4Walmart & Target
5Walmart & McDonald’s
FLORIDA
1Walmart & The Home Depot
2Walmart & US Post Office
3Walmart & Lowe’s
4Walmart & Target
5The Home Depot & Lowe’s
GEORGIA
1The Home Depot & Kroger
2Walmart & McDonald’s
3The Home Depot & Lowe’s
4Walmart & Starbucks
5Walmart & Target
NEW JERSEY
1Walmart & The Home Depot
2Costco & Best Buy
3The Home Depot & Best Buy
4The Home Depot & Lowe’s
5Walmart & Best Buy
NEW YORK
1The Home Depot & Lowe’s
2Walmart & Costco
3McDonald’s & Dunkin Donuts
4Walmart & The Home Depot
5The Home Depot & Taco Bell
NORTH CAROLINA
1Walmart & Lowe’s Home Improvement
2Walmart & US Post Office
3Walmart & Target
4Target & Lowe’s Home
5The Home Depot & Lowe’s
OHIO
1Walmart & Speedway
2Walmart & Kroger
3The Home Depot & Lowe’s
4Walmart & Sam’s Club
5Walmart & McDonald’s
PENNSYLVANIA
1Walmart & Starbucks
2Lowe’s & Costco
3US Post Office & Lowe’s
4Target & CVS
5Burger King & Best Buy
TEXAS
1Walmart  & McDonald’s
2Walmart & Sam’s Club
3Walmart & Target
4Walmart & The Home Depot
5Walgreens & CVS
WASHINGTON
1The Home Depot & Costco
2Costco & Best Buy
3Whole Foods Market & Costco
4Walmart & Starbucks
5Lowe’s & 7-Eleven



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