Grocery Shoppers Maintain or Increase Spend, Looking For More Value and Service

A majority (81%) of consumers are spending the same amount or more money on groceries in the last three months (August – October) than they did in the three months before, according to The Coinstar Grocery Snapshot Survey. However, consumers are looking for more from retailers, citing added value and service as a primary driver of their purchasing decisions.

Coinstar’s survey explored consumer grocery spending trends of 1,052 primary household grocery shoppers ages 18 and older over the past three months and found that they are seeking and taking advantage of opportunities to save through a back-to-basics approach:

  • 56 percent of consumers have used more coupons within the past 6 months than they have in the past.
  • 57 percent of consumers say they are most encouraged to use loyalty or value cards when instant rewards are credited to their current purchase.
  • Consumers are relying more on the money they have in their pockets, using debit cards (42%) or cash (27%) as their primary form of payment for groceries.

“Today’s cost conscious consumers are willing to spend money at the supermarket as long as they view their experience as streamlined and value-oriented,” said Engle Saez, vice president of category management and consumer experience, Coinstar, Inc.’s Coin business.

These trends are likely to continue through the holiday season, evidenced by National Retail Federation data showing that the 2011 holiday season will be “average,” with only a 2.8 percent increase in sales compared to the 5.2 percent increase that retailers experienced last year. Consumers are spending carefully by purchasing more grocery brands rather than private label brands (48%) and fewer discretionary, or non-necessity items, such as magazines or candy (42%).

Saez continued, “Grocers clearly have a tremendous opportunity to attract and build loyalty among shoppers this holiday season, by focusing on ways to increase the level of service, value, and simplicity they can offer to customers.  Retailers catering to the savvy shopper, through more options and flexibility, will position themselves for an advantage in today’s competitive market.”

Additional Findings From The Coinstar Grocery Snapshot Survey Include:

Customer Service Priorities. When asked what constitutes great customer service in supermarkets, shoppers cite:

  • Knowledgeable and friendly employees (63%)
  • Varied, extensive, and well-organized inventory (62%)
  • Ease and speed of the experience made possible by efficient staff (61%)

One-third of shoppers value additional supermarket services that make running errands easier, such as self-service coin counting kiosks, banking, or DVD rentals. Recipe ideas, sampling or nutritional guidelines, and other above and beyond services, are also valued (27%).

Retailers Attract Customers Through Incentives. 56 percent of customers have used supermarket loyalty or value cards for their purchases in the last six months. Only 23 percent of consumers don’t have a supermarket loyalty or value card, evidence that grocers understand the importance of this growing trend and attracting loyal customers using incentives.

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