Supermarkets in the US have been told they need to build stronger customer loyalty, or rival retailers will continue to capture a bigger chunk of the food business. A report from AC Nielsen shows consumers are spending less money in supermarkets because they can find the same products in other types of store. Senior vice president for consumer analytics Todd Hale said that, although all those quizzed shopped in supermarkets, the number of trips they made in a year declined from 94 in 1997 to 90 this year. And the value of the average grocery basket size has improved only 1.2%. But c-store basket size shot up 12.5%, although the number of visits per year remained static. Hale said: "Convenience and forecourt stores are capturing more of consumers' overall spending. Both channels have done a good job of managing their limited shelf space to either add products that save consumers trips to other stores or cull the slower moving items." Visits to warehouse clubs stayed flat and had no significant change in basket size. But discounters are on the up ­ the average number of trips made each year rose from 9 to 10, with a slight rise in basket size. "It's no longer enough for traditional supermarkets just to have the right products consumers want," said Hale. "The most successful chains are those that give their best customers more reasons to shop with them ­ whether it's linking loyalty cards to those of other industries, such as airlines, or offering more personally tailored promotions." {{NEWS }}