Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shopping Habits in Uncertain Economy


US consumers are making more frequent shopping trips but buying less each trip, according to research by Nielsen. In the research, shopping trips were segmented into four types:

  • Immediate: low-value, instant -need driven baskets with an average basket ring of $15 per trip
  • Fill-In: slightly higher value baskets averaging $51 per trip
  • Routine: weekly, high-value shopping trips averaging $98 per trip
  • Stock-up: large trips averaging $242 per trip
The research also shows the various channels roles in perspective of the different type of shopping trips and also the habits for different levels of household income:
By Channel
  • Grocery – Immediate trips fell in importance by almost one percent as the channel saw minor gains in fill-in, routine and stock-up trips.
  • Supercenters – Immediate and fill-in trips have gained in importance over the past two years, while routine and stock-up trips declined.
  • Mass merchandisers (excluding supercenters) – Fill-in trips showed slight gains, while all other trip types posted minor declines.
  • Drug – Fill-in and routine trips were up, while immediate trips declined.
  • Warehouse Club – There was an up-tick in immediate trips, but the staple of club stores – routine and stock-up trips declined.
  • Convenience/gas – Immediate trips – the hallmark of this channel – have declined by more than two percent, most likely due to rising gas prices.
  • Dollar – Basket size increased, but the immediate trip type continued to dominate.
By Household Income
  • Affluent ($100k+) – Increased the percentage of smaller trips within supercenters and club stores, and drove more frequent and larger trips in smaller formats such as drug, convenience and dollar stores.
  • $70k – $99.9k – This group reduced larger trips across most channels, but increased smaller trips within supercenters and club stores. Stock-up trips were generally off among these households.
  • $50k – $69.9k – Middle income households shopped less frequently overall while increasing their trips to value-centric supercenters and dollar stores.
  • $40k – $49.9k – Trips declined across most channels, but these households increased their immediate, fill-in and routine trips to club stores, with smaller and stock-up trips to dollar stores also up.
  • $30k – $39.9k – Small trip growth within supercenters, while stock-up trips declined by 10% in that channel and in all measured channels. All but the very large dollar store trips grew among these households.
  • $20k – $29.9k – Smaller supercenter and club trips grew slightly, while stock-up trips declined by 10% in all measured channels. Dollar stores are performing well among this income group that retailers are targeting.
  • Less than $20k – Drastic cutbacks on small grocery trips, while increasing larger grocery and club trips. This may be indicative of pay period buying behavior. This income group shows big drops in larger supercenter trips and softness in dollar store trips."
Source Nielsen.

As small trips are gaining in importance, there seem to be opportunities in store layout, assortment and promotional support to attract consumers with "short horizon shopper missions" in mind.