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
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.?
Request for Answer Clarification by
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
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
-- 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.