With the economy improving and coupon use declining, you’d think many grocery shoppers who tightened their purse strings over the past few years are starting to loosen them up a little. But think again. A new survey says shoppers are still demanding deals – and their favorite stores had better offer them, or they might not be their favorite stores for much longer.
Those findings come in the newest annual National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Survey. The survey was conducted among grocery shoppers who have opted in to participate in such research. So it’s a food-savvy bunch, who take their grocery shopping seriously.
And while these serious shoppers appreciate things like food quality, store cleanliness and overall shopping environment, they also like good deals just as much as anyone. “Shoppers could use a break from relentless budget pressures brought on by an economic recovery that – despite glowing headlines – has yet to reach millions of people,” the report reads. Besides, no matter the state of the economy, “people love the rush of finding a hot buy.”
In fact, nearly 60% now say that sales and promotional prices are “very important” considerations in where they choose to shop. That’s a huge bounce of nearly 10 percentage points from last year’s survey, and it just about equals 2010’s recessionary peak. And nearly 88% say their primary grocery store is doing a good or excellent job at providing good deals. Such findings “expose the excitement shoppers feel when their bargain hunt is rewarded,” the report reads. And, taking a swipe at one particular retailer’s flagging performance in food, “look no further than Walmart grocery sales to see everyday low pricing doesn’t stir shoppers the same way.”
The most popular shopping behaviors show that shoppers are “opportunists when buying food,” the report says. For the fourth straight year, the top savings strategies are stocking up when an item is on sale, looking at store circulars before shopping, taking advantage of loyalty program discounts, and “buying products on special even if you hadn’t planned to buy them that day.” This year, using coupons rises to the number-five slot.
And shoppers expect their stores to handle those coupons properly. Several shoppers mentioned “slow checking of coupons” as one of the most bothersome things about their checkout experience. Nearly half of shoppers want faster checkouts overall, but more than 60% aren’t willing to go to self-checkouts if they can help it. Shoppers may “want to speed through the front end,” the report reads, but “consumers don’t want to do retailers’ work for them.”
But most still want to do their own shopping, in person. 82% said they had never ordered groceries online, and about the same percentage said the availability of an online buying service is not important in where they choose to shop.
Neither do many grocery shoppers care how digitally savvy their stores are. 57% said mobile marketing, such as digital coupons, offers via text and smartphone apps, are not important to them. “Retailers that accept digital coupons, offer check-in rewards and run apps are positioning for tomorrow’s success,” the report reads, but it acknowledges that “today’s survey figures don’t yet show much traction for these abilities.”
In all, no matter how happy they are with their favorite stores, many shoppers say those stores can still do better. When asked what improvements their primary grocery store can make, number one on the list is offering better deals. And this, remember, is coming from the very same survey in which 88% said their store is already doing a good or excellent job at providing good deals.
So the deals may be good – but in times like these, even “good” may not be quite good enough.
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