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Q: Number of gas stations in USA ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Number of gas stations in USA
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: paulcox-ga
List Price: $3.25
Posted: 29 Oct 2002 18:12 PST
Expires: 28 Nov 2002 18:12 PST
Question ID: 92666
I would like to know the number of gas stations in the 48 contiguous
states. Use whatever definition of "gas station" is convenient, just
be sure to define your use of it.
Subject: Re: Number of gas stations in USA
Answered By: omnivorous-ga on 29 Oct 2002 18:52 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Paul --

This is a common interview question at Microsoft, where the objective
is to ask the candidate  about something unfamiliar to see how they
reason.  But you've come to the right place because we KNOW the answer
from the Economic Census done by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The answer: 126,262 for the lower 48

Now we'll fill your tank with more information than you ever cared to
know (it's a hallmark of Google researchers):

All gas stations in U.S.: 126,889
Alaska: 267
Hawaii: 360

Gas stations with convenience stores: 81,684

The following are the 113,000 stations that have been open more than a
Gas stations with sales less than $500,000: 18,802
Gas stations with sales $500K - $1 million: 24,103
Gas stations with sales $1 million - $2.5 million: 49,482
Gas stations with sales over $2.5 million: 20,465 

Can you believe that there are 96 that do more than $25 million per
year?  Must be truck stops.  Big truck stops.

The data comes from the U.S. 1997 Economic Census "Establishment &
Firm Size, Retail Sector" (October, 2000)

Alaska (September, 1999): 

Hawaii (November, 1999):

Things like this delight Google Answers researchers.  By comparison,
do you know that there are about 15,000 McDonald's in the U.S.?

Best regards,


Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 30 Oct 2002 01:57 PST
Paul --

These gasoline station counts rely on companies reporting the primary
activity of each location to the Census Bureau.  Reports are made by
NAICS codes, which replaced SIC codes in the late 1990s.  The NAICS
codes have more breakdowns (including gas stations with convenience

All gas stations are under NAICS code 447:
4471 gas stations
  -- 44711 gas stations with convenience stores
  -- 44719 other gas stations

Best regards,


Request for Answer Clarification by paulcox-ga on 30 Oct 2002 09:30 PST
So far an excellent answer, but I would just like to request the
definition of "gas station" under NAICS code 447, which is the
definition you chose. For example, are unmanned gas stations, harbor
gas stations, private gas stations (solely for a government
organization or private company use), closed gas stations, etc
included in this definition? Thanks.

Clarification of Answer by omnivorous-ga on 30 Oct 2002 10:22 PST
For a precise definition of what's covered, we have the information on
reporting in the Introduction to the U.S. Economic Census:
-- these are businesses, not governmental agencies
-- they are taken by-location either from the Economic Census or IRS
data.  As such, a large farm with a substantial fueling operation
would not be counted unless the farm chose to split fueling revenues
out separately.
-- by-location data would even include locations with no employees
(automated fueling centers).

Closed operations could be excluded two ways:
1.  by looking at the establishments with insignificant sales.  There
were 7 gas stations in the U.S. with sales of less than $10,000.  They
could have closed during the year; they could have opened at the end
of the year.
2.  looking at the category "establishments operated for the entire
year."  There were more than 14,000 establishments NOT operated for
the entire year, though of course many of those were new locations.

Best regards,

paulcox-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
I got more than expected for the price. Great value!

If you're looking for features to add to GA, a "watch this question"
option that would put any question in a listing under your account
page would be great.

Subject: Re: Number of gas stations in USA
From: addingnumbers-ga on 29 Oct 2002 20:52 PST
Apparently thorough, except that you did not meet his only requisite
that you specify the definition of a gas station used for the total!
Subject: Re: Number of gas stations in USA
From: stonej7579-ga on 29 Oct 2002 21:09 PST
I don't think that Gas-Station needs an explanation since the word
combination is a definition in itself, don't you think.  Also, I think
he went as far as breaking down ones that stand alone and ones that
have convience stores in them.  Maybe convience stores should have
been the word needing definition.
Subject: Re: Number of gas stations in USA
From: stockzguy-ga on 30 Oct 2002 00:41 PST
Nope, now there are 126,263. There is a brand-new filling station and
convience store, that is being opened in northern NJ, right next to
the new mall. :)

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