Convenience shopping 'hits a wall' as discounter visits soar

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The survey found the average shopper repertoire was four retailers a month

The convenience wave may have “hit a wall” while shopping at discounters continues to motor, latest findings from Shoppercentric suggest.

The shopper research agency’s 2019 Shopper Stock Take Index makes year-on-year comparisons across UK shopper’s thoughts and feelings about the grocery sector.

Shopping “little and often”, adopted by 15% of UK shoppers, seems to be starting to plateau, with the data revealing 45% of consumers saying they had used convenience stores in the past month compared with 49% in the 2018 survey and 47% in 2017.

The number of those saying they visited discounters soared nearly 10 percentage points from 57% last year to 66% this year, up from 44% in 2017.

Shoppercentric’s figures show that in December alone two in three UK shoppers used a discounter.

Online has dipped from 30% last year to 27% this year and local specialists have reached their highest in four years, up from 6% in 2016 to 9% this year.

Jamie Rayner, managing director of Shoppercentric, which asked shoppers where they shopped, the purpose of their shopping trips and why they use the stores they do, said: “We believe mission retention is most likely the biggest challenge in the year ahead for retailers.”

There were signs the convenience “wave” might well have “hit the wall” - at least in the choices shoppers are taking to achieve a convenient way of shopping, he said.

“Increasingly shoppers are articulating the expectation they will make the effort to visit stores that provide a good experience.”

A ‘good experience’ included great bargains, interesting and unusual ranges, friendly and knowledgeable service, ease of shop, inspiration and time saving.

The survey also found that the average shopper repertoire was now four grocery retailers a month.

Read more: Environmental actions ‘major influencer’ of coffee shop trips

Critically important facets most shoppers attributed to their expectations, in order of importance, were good quality fresh produce, competitive prices, being “treated with respect”, cheapest prices, good choice from budget to top-end brands, great service and a stress-free shopping experience.

Help to learn new things, providing ideas and inspiration, and proactivity in “helping me to adopt better habits”, were deemed the most critical by the smallest proportion of shoppers.

Rayner looked to the behaviour of younger shoppers to get an understanding of what the future might hold, with the 18-24 age group using mobile phone far more when shopping - 53% compared with 38% - and more likely to have “naturally engaged” with new technologies for shopping such as wearables and smart speakers such as Alexa and Google+.

Younger shoppers were also much less likely to speak to staff than older shoppers or to use a catalogue, and more likely to access promotions via their smartphones.

However, younger shoppers were just as likely to use bricks and mortar stores as shoppers in general, Shoppercentric found.

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