ARLINGTON, Va. — Saving money at the supermarket is a bigger priority for consumers struggling to cope with the current economy, the latest shopper trends report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has found.
Saving money at the supermarket is a bigger priority for consumers struggling to cope with the current economy, the latest shopper trends report from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) has found.
"Shoppers have gained a renewed appreciation for saving money through home-cooked meals, comparison shopping, store selection, brand preference, coupons and more," says FMI president and chief executive officer Leslie Sarasin. "They choose to save money by eating at home, but they also believe, overwhelmingly, that the food they eat at home is healthier than eating away from home. It is clear supermarkets are positioned to help their customers save money and help them make healthier choices when it comes to food."
People interested in home cooking are helping drive increased trips to the store. The average is now 2.06 visits per week, with nearly six in 10 shoppers saying they are making two or more grocery shopping trips a week. Shoppers are spending an average of $99.90 weekly on groceries, up 1.5% compared with last year’s average of $98.40. But they are spending less of that at their primary store, which now accounts for 75.4% of the total, down from 76.6% last year.
Price is the most important factor (75%) consumers consider in choosing a primary store, followed closely by high-quality fruits and vegetables (73%) and items on sale or money-saving specials (67%).
Supermarkets remain the most frequented channel for 56% of shoppers, unchanged from 2009. This is the first time in five years that the supermarket share has not declined. Supercenters are the second-most-popular choice, with 27% of shoppers, followed by limited-assortment stores, cited by 7% of those surveyed.
The recession has caused changes in shopping and spending patterns for 52% of those surveyed, down from 69% at the peak of the recession in January 2009. Consumers have devised four savings strategies to save money on their food purchases: eating at restaurants less often, instituting money-saving tactics in-store, shopping secondary stores for advertised specials and switching primary stores.
Grocery store customers say they are saving money by buying only what they need and seeking the best value. Before going to the store they make shopping lists, research sales, collect coupons and compare prices across store formats. Once at the store, they participate in frequent-shopper programs, use in-store coupons, buy from specials, stock up on bargains and buy private brands.
For at least some shoppers, the focus on price and value is coming at the expense of healthy choices. The number of shoppers who say they make “a lot of effort” to eat healthfully dropped this year to 27% from 34%. Those who say they make “just a little” effort or none at all rose from 18% last year to 26% in 2010.
Consumers remain interested in environmental issues and sustainability, however. The number of shoppers participating in various green practices is growing. Half of all shoppers say they try to bring their own bags, for example, which is up from 40% last year. The use of energy-efficient light bulbs has risen from 70% in 2008 to 88% in 2010. Sustainable seafood is a growing area of concern, with 37% of shoppers buying sustainable seafood on a regular basis, up 7% from last year.