UK research highlights grocery shopping changes

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 5th August 2009

While food prices have moderated in recent times, consumers have still shown a heightened preference for ‘penny pinching’ grocery strategies, according to research from the UK.

A study from revealed that around 73% of British shoppers were opting for supermarket own brand labels in a bid to save money on the weekly shop, a figure almost three times higher than in August 2008.

Much of this increase can be attributed to supermarkets expanding their own brand products in a bid to stop consumers switching to cheaper chains, the researchers suggested.

Overall, nine out of ten shoppers were found to use “recession-busting” shopping strategies when they do the weekly shop. These has led to an increase in use of vouchers and online price comparison. Around one in five compare prices online – markedly higher than the one in sixteen in August last year.

This online searching growth has also boosted demand for online grocery, which has begun to make an impact in the UK. Many of the majors are ramping up their online offering, while specialist online retailer Ocado is seeing unprecedented sales growth. This is in sharp contrast to Australia, where most retailers have failed to throw their support behind online grocery. Coles has recently reported growing popularity, however, which is leading to a much more substantial investment in their online offering.

Around 15 per cent of UK shoppers now claim to avoid the hustle and bustle of their local supermarket by shopping online – triple the amount of just one year ago and expected to grow further.

Another change witnessed by the researchers was the shift toward more home production. Almost a fifth have now taken to growing their own fruit and vegetables, which is more than double the number at the same time last year.

“The number of Brits making basic changes to their weekly food shopping patterns has increased dramatically since last year, as the effects of the recession continue to amplify,” Rumina Hassam, personal finance expert at, said. “(And), despite the economic outlook remaining uncertain, consumers may find they have the last laugh – as the lessons learnt from the schooling in savviness they are currently experiencing as a result of the recession will remain vital, even long after the economy recovers.”