Over a quarter of convenience store shoppers believe prices at supermarkets’ local formats are more expensive than at their independent convenience store while a third think that they are the same, according to new research obtained exclusively by The Grocer.
However, supermarket shoppers who have visited a multiple small store in the last three months are split when it comes to comparing prices to independent c-stores.
While 21% say supermarket c-stores are cheaper and a quarter that they are the same price, nearly one in five believe these stores are dearer than independents.
“Shoppers using supermarket convenience chains certainly don’t think they are a lot cheaper than independents’ stores,” said Mike Greene, chief executive of Harris International Marketing, which carried out the Pricing 2004 study.
“It shows that people are judging price by the format. Brand alone does not change their view.”
More worryingly for the big box retailers that have entered the convenience sector, 37% of supermarket shoppers say prices at their c-formats are higher than at their superstore and two-thirds say this is unacceptable.
HIM interviewed 1,200 shoppers in 12 independent c-store chains - each of which had two stores located near a supermarket, two near a supermarket c-store and two in another location.
A further 400 supermarket shoppers and 190 high street shoppers were questioned.
Over half of c-store shoppers said store price was becoming more important in deciding where to shop and 54% of supermarket customers stated price was the main factor determining where they shop.
But while many c-store shoppers believed prices at c-stores were more expensive that at supermarkets, half had no idea of the prices charged at supermarkets. Of those that did, three out of five were comfortable with the higher price at c-stores. And the majority of c-store shoppers do not bother comparing prices between c-stores and supermarkets, the research finds.
Three-quarters of supermarket shoppers say c-stores are more expensive than supermarkets but nearly half merely perceive this to be the case, saying they do not know it as a fact.
“There is an opportunity for better price communication by independent c-stores,” said Greene. He said the research showed independents’ worries over price were unfounded.
“If convenience retailing really is all about the price, the sector would not exist and Aldi and Lidl would be brand leaders. It is not about price, it is about value.”
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Siân Harrington