Woolworths research shows how Australia’s shopping trends have changed in 25 years

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th September 2013

Australian supermarket group Woolworths has released research showing how Australian society and life has changed, by looking at what is in shoppers’ trolleys.

Woolworths said its research, published in the report ‘Trolley Trends’, showed that Australia has become a “cosmopolitan community” and that Australians’ “tastebuds have embraced global flavours”.

The supermarket group said it commissioned leading social research KPMG’s Bernard Salt to undertake the research into Australia’s shopping habits, with context provided by analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Household Expenditure Surveys, Census and Reserve Bank of Australia.

Woolworths said the modern Australian household is less likely to have exclusive Ango-Australian heritage, less likely to identify with religion, more likely to be highly educated and more likely to have both partners working. The modern Australian family might be a single, a couple or have adult children living at home well into their twenties. These changes are reflected in shopping habits, according to Woolworths.

“At Woolworths, our obsession with our customers is at the heart of everything we do,” said Tjeerd Jegen, Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets. “Looking at how our lives and food shopping have evolved is what motivated us to undertaken this unique study,” he said.

“This report provides an exceptional insight into how the last 25 years have changed the way we shop and eat. A shopper from 25 years ago would be confounded by the supermarket of today,” Mr Jegen said. “As Australia has changed, Woolworths has changed as well. We look forward to delivering what our customer needs well into the future,” he said.

Trolley Trends key findings

  • The big weekly shop is dead. On average, Australians spend just 34 per cent of their weekly food budget on their primary shopping day – they are increasingly “using the supermarket like a pantry”, according to the report.
  • Sunday is becoming the new Saturday for supermarket shopping, with 18 per cent of Australians now making Sunday their primary shopping day, up 3 per cent since 2012.
  • Households headed by a person aged 48-49 years spend $3,548 more on food and non-alcoholic beverages each year than the average Australian
  • There was a 31.5 per cent increase in the number of children still living with their parents between 2006 and 2011 – reflected in higher food costs for longer for many households
  • More than a third of the items in Woolworths’ supermarket trolleys are purchased on promotion.
  • The proportion of items purchased on promotion at Woolworths was up 10 per cent per annum.
  • The potato was Australia’s side dish of choice in 1984, accounting for 72 per cent of side dish purchases. This had dropped to 39 per cent, with the popularity of pasta, noodles and rice increasing to make up 61 per cent of side dish purchases.
  • The ‘meat and three veg’ standard meal of the 1970s and 1980s has gone “by the wayside”.
  • In the 1990s Mediterranean produce, including zucchini, garlic, eggplant and red capsicum, reached “critical mass” in Woolworths supermarkets.
  • Medjool dates, figs, almonds and pomegranate were among the Middle Eastern items that reached “critical mass” at Woolworths in the years since 2010.
  • Current trends include ‘superfoods’ including kale, blueberries and sweet potato, which have become part of the standard line in the Woolworths fresh product section.
  • Housing costs (rent or mortgage payments) account for the largest share of household expenditure (18 per cent) and saw the single largest increase in household expenditure since 1984, up 380 per cent.
  • Food and non-alcoholic drink spending currently accounts for the second largest percentage of household expenditure (17 per cent).
  • Generation X “has emerged as Generation debt” – more than half of all households headed by a Gen X member have a home loan and one third have a credit card debt.
Australian shopping trolley contents have changed a lot in 25 years