Earlier this month, the Oklahoma City-based Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores announced the unveiling of a new 12,000 square foot travel center in Cordes Junction, Arizona.
A new Pilot/Flying J Travel Center, with 300 truck parking spaces, is set to go up on a 42-acre site in Suffolk, Virginia.
While at the same time, TravelCenters of America, based in Westlake, Ohio, said it is in the process of building a 17-acre truck stop and travel center in East Nashville.
Indicating an industry resilience, new truck stops and travels centers are currently either being planned or actually built from Roanoke, Virginia, to DeMotte, Indiana, and Woodhull, Illinois.
The continued building activity, say analysts, is one more sign of a segment of the nation’s transportation economy that has gotten through a rough patch earlier this year with the pandemic economic shutdown and perhaps emerged stronger.
“Truck stops, which cater primarily to 18-wheelers on long hauls, are emerging as one of the brighter spots for commercial real estate during the pandemic,” reports the Wall Street Journal.
The $650 billion industry did take a hit earlier this year when the pandemic first spread and many of the full-service restaurants that are a vital part of the travel center experience were forced to close.
But the pandemic also brought with it an unforeseen benefit: as more and more consumers, beginning this spring, purchased products through e-commerce, that has meant an increase in the trucks needed to transport those purchases.
Three major players continue to dominate the field: Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J, with annual revenues in excess of $21 billion and more than 780 locations; Love’s Travels & Country Stores, with revenues of $20 billion and more than 500 locations; and the Westlake, Ohio-based TravelCenters of America, with $6 billion in revenue and around 300 locations.
Industry analysts say truck stop and travel center construction is expected to increase next year, with new projects particularly slated to go up in the West.
Projects may also include the updating of existing facilities: in late September a Pilot Flying J location in Gila Bend, Arizona saw a total makeover that included the building of 70 new truck parking spots, 10 fueling positions, restaurant space, driver’s lounge, and a public laundry.
By Garry Boulard
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