Nearly half of all shoppers visit supermarkets weekly, up from just one-third five years ago, according to research obtained exclusively by The Grocer.
The figures, compiled from surveys carried out annually by retail research company ID Magasin over the past decade, support the growing trend towards top-up shopping and endorse recent moves by the multiples into the convenience market.
Since 1998, the proportion of shoppers visiting multiples weekly has risen from 33% to 47%. Between 1999 and 2001 there was a 60% rise in shoppers visiting two to three times a week, to 32%, although since the beginning of this year the figure has declined to 28%. The proportion of consumers shopping daily in multiples has remained static at 4%.
The figures are based on a survey of 2,500 shoppers. According to ID Magasin chairman Siemon Scamell-Katz, they raise a number of issues for supermarket operators.
"Traditional layouts simply don't match shoppers' needs and this is a wonderful opportunity for the independent retailer, who can react more quickly to changing shopping patterns," he said.
"Fewer than one in 50 shoppers cover more than half the store in a typical supermarket visit. To cater for today's shopper, supermarkets need to offer self-contained convenience areas near the entrance.
Top-up shops share the same core products as main shops Â fresh produce, bread, meat and milk."
Some multiples are already testing this idea. Sainsbury has a dedicated convenience area with its own entrance at the front of its Hazel Grove store in Manchester.
Scamell-Katz added: "Convenience stores need to shape up Â people wouldn't be using supermarkets in this way if the corner shop or local forecourt met their needs."
The survey also points out that although consumers believe they are saving time Â a top-up shop takes around 25 minutes and a main one about 45 minutes Â the fact they are going to the supermarket more frequently means they are actually spending more time in store over a weekly period.