Shoppers find it difficult to change grocery stores

Posted by Isobel Drake on 16th October 2009

Switching between supermarkets has not been as easy for consumers as they suggested, according to new research from the British branch of market research firm Mintel.

Studies last year in the US, Australia and the UK indicated that as many as one in three would actively consider a change to their primary grocery store, but this has yet to eventuate with the study showing just four per cent have switched over the past twelve months.

Mintel said that the research indicated grocery discounters are not replacing the use of mainstream retailers, although they are getting more interest.

Food price inflation and the recession are having an impact on grocery shopping, however, and consumers are becoming increasingly aware of prices and promotions whether they have been affected directly by the recession or not. Indeed, some 54% of shoppers are buying more food on special offers and multibuys, while over a third (36%) are trading down and buying more budget own-brands. One in five (21%) are buying more from discount grocers and nearly three in ten (28%) have also cut back on treats and luxuries.

And it is not only those on a tighter budget who are making cut-backs. A high number of affluent families are also watching the pennies. Nearly four in ten (38%) of these better off families are now buying more budget own-brands and 21% are spending more in grocery discounters.

“These are testing times and the recession provides the ultimate test of customer loyalty to those stores where shoppers spend the bulk of their money,” Richard Caines, Senior Retail Analyst at Mintel, said. “While consumers are keen to seek out promotions, very few have actually changed their main grocery store in the last year. Although discounters may be an increasingly acceptable element of many people’s shopping repertoires, including better off families, the vast majority of shoppers are able to make savings by shopping more smartly at their existing supermarket.”