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Metro Market had a 17.9% increase in customer visits during the first quarter of 2023.

Smaller grocery stores dominate Q1 foot traffic numbers

People are taking less trips to superstores in an effort to curb spending

Could consumers be stepping away from the giant grocer warehouses and moving into a snugger grocery environment? The latest research from, based in Los Altos, Calif., may be indicating such a transition. first quarter data on foot traffic shows customers drifting away from superstores in an attempt to curb food spending. Visits have been less frequent. Smaller grocery chains, however, are not feeling the same vibe. For the first few months of 2023 shoppers have been gravitating to the neighborhood market. Metro Market, for example, had a 17.9% increase in customer visits. Grocery Outlet (11.6% rise), Trader Joe’s (8.8%), H Mart (5.3%), WinCo Foods (3.6%), Market Basket (3.4%), and Aldi (1.4%) also experienced a surge.

Superstores did not fare poorly during the first quarter as data shows that trips were just consolidated. Walmart is still king when it comes to foot traffic, owning 57.8%. Target (21.6%), Costco (11.4%) and Sam’s Club (7.6%) were the other top grocery destinations. Leading in first quarter increase among the discounted retailers were the Dollar Tree (7.4%), Ollie’s Bargain Outlet (7.2%) and Bargain Hunt (5.2%).

Overall, inflation continues to keep shoppers away. Grocery store visits are down from COVID-19 pandemic highs and are not showing any signs of a surge.

It’s also important to note that data shows customers who have switched to superstores and dollar stores due to price could return. The reason? Private in-store brands which can be cost competitive.

Between August 2021 and August 2022, shoppers experienced the largest annual percentage increase in grocery food prices since the 1980s.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office’s Food Prices: Information on Trends, Factors and Federal Roles revealed for a year the increase was around 11%. On average, the annual rate is about 2%.

The USDA and other experts interviewed by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the following factors led to the historic rise in 2021 and 2022: the COVID-19 pandemic, increased consumer demand, droughts in 2021, the highly pathogenic Avian influenza virus outbreak in 2022, and the Russian-Ukraine conflict. Prices increased in wheat, corn, and soybeans, which were already experiencing global shortages. An insect-borne plant disease that impairs a tree’s ability to produce fruit and eventually kills it has been reducing citrus yields in a number of states since 2005, which also has impacted food pricing.

Federal agencies executed a number of actions to help de-accelerate the rise between 2021 and 2022, including:

  • In response to price increases for fertilizer, the USDA provided funding to agricultural producers to help expand the manufacturing and processing of fertilizer and nutrient alternatives, and the agency expanded double crop insurance opportunities to help increase domestic food production
  • The FDA allowed producers to make minor changes to ingredients without updating labeling when ingredient shortages required the use of substitutes
  • The USDA provided grant funding to help meat and poultry processors to expand operations
  • The U.S. DOT and USDA worked together to reduce increased congestion at U.S. agricultural export terminals due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions that left fewer shipping containers available at shipping ports
  • The FDA used regulatory flexibilities to allow producers to divert food meant for restaurant consumption to grocery stores.
  • The FTC launched an inquiry into supply chain disruptions and ordered nine large retailers, wholesalers and consumer good suppliers to provide detailed information that will help the FTC understand the causes of supply chain disruptions.


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