Economy Cuts Shopping Trips

DALLAS — Shoppers reduced their average supermarket shopping trips to 1.69 per week, according to data released at Food Marketing Institute’s Future Connect conference here Tuesday.

DALLAS — Shoppers reduced their average supermarket shopping trips to 1.69 per week, according to data released at Food Marketing Institute’s Future Connect [4] conference here Tuesday.

The frequency was the lowest in the history of FMI’s Trends survey of consumer shopping habits. About 34% of shoppers only bought groceries once a week, up from 29% a year ago, and those shopping only once every other week increased to 20%, vs. 12% a year ago.

Still, customers seem to appreciate their primary supermarket more than ever — overall satisfaction rose to 8.4 on a scale of 1 to 10, and 95% of shoppers said they would recommend their primary store.

“While the economy hasn’t made it easy for anyone, you are doing the right thing,” Leslie G. Sarasin [5], president and chief executive officer, FMI, told the audience at Future Connect.

The economic pressures are also intersecting with consumers’ desire to eat healthier, she said. Concern about nutrition among shoppers polled fell 5% vs. a year ago, but 4% said their diet has room for improvement. “I think the stage set [of economic concerns] is overwhelming the actor,” she said.

Among other findings, both shoppers and retailers increasingly define “local” sourcing as coming from within state lines, rather than within a certain number of miles. In addition, consumers see buying local as an important means of supporting local economies, in addition to being a sustainability issue.

“Selling local is a vital means of community involvement and identity,” Sarasin said. Sustainability, meanwhile, has become a tie-breaker, she explained. Shoppers might not necessarily choose a store based solely on its sustainable practices, but “in a situation where all other factors are equal, a green store will win.”