Are you a faithful customer of your favorite local grocery store, visiting once a week to stock up, and rarely straying to get your groceries anywhere else?

Or do you drop in to one, two, three or more stores throughout the week, chasing deals and grabbing a little of this and a little of that as you go?

A new survey finds that “the days of one-stop grocery shopping are a thing of the past,” as a vast majority of grocery shoppers have made visiting multiple stores during the week – or even on the same day – the new norm.

That’s according to a new report from the sales and marketing agency Acosta, titled “Trip Drivers: Top Influencers Driving Shopper Traffic”. It finds that “shopping and hopping from store to store go hand-in-hand for today’s consumers.”

Fully 76% of shoppers surveyed said they visit more than one store for groceries each week. 44% regularly visit at least two, 23% visit three and 9% visit four or more different stores – each and every week! Millennials are particularly prone to shopping around, with 44% shopping three or more retailers weekly.

So what’s behind all of this fickleness? Acosta says it’s all about price, quality, selection and convenience.

“Shoppers appreciate having options,” said Colin Stewart, Senior Vice President at Acosta. “People are motivated by not only good deals and fresh products, but also by brand loyalty, which can impact their decisions to either keep returning to a particular store, or hopping to another.”

60% of those who regularly shop at more than one store said prices are their main motivating factor – simply put, they shop around to get the best deals. The most committed savers might cherry-pick the best promotions from several stores’ weekly ad circulars. Other shoppers who aren’t quite so coupon- and deal-savvy might do most of their shopping at one store, but when they can’t find what they need at a good price, they’ll get it for less somewhere else.

It’s not just about price, though. 41% of shoppers who frequent more than one store say they do so because some stores carry better quality products in certain categories. 33% said they will visit another store if they can’t find the products or brands they want at their first choice. And 23% visit several stores in a week based on where they happen to be – such as at home, at work, or somewhere in between.

In some cases, shopping at multiple stores goes hand-in-hand with shopping more frequently overall. 37% of shoppers, and 65% of Millennials, make multiple, smaller grocery shopping trips a week in order to ensure their food is fresh. 6% of overall shoppers, and 24% of Millennials, actually shop every single day – and some even shop at more than one store each and every day, to get the freshest food, best selection and best prices.

Now that’s commitment.

The phenomenon of shopping around has been studied before, with prior surveys offering advice to retailers on how to prevent these “split shoppers” from straying. Earlier this year, a report from SKUlocal suggested that offering coupons – and accepting competitors’ coupons – can help keep some customers from shopping elsewhere in search of better deals. Back in 2013, a study by ClickIQ suggested that low-price leaders like Walmart step up their game in quality and freshness, especially in the meat and produce departments, so shoppers don’t feel like they have to buy those items somewhere else.

The Acosta report has its own recommendations. It says retailers need to provide shoppers with “relevant/personalized coupons, suggested recipes, recent purchases and pertinent sale items” to get on their radar before they even enter the store. Don’t cut prices at the expense of quality, it also advises retailers, since price isn’t everything to split shoppers. And finally – have fun. Acosta says 62% of survey respondents enjoy grocery shopping, so retailers should “keep improving and enhancing the shopping experience to keep shoppers engaged and loyal”.

In the end, there’s only so much any retailer can do to get shoppers to visit one store exclusively. So if you already shop around now, you’ll most likely continue to do it in the future. “No retailer can be everything to everyone,” Acosta concludes. And with more choices than ever these days – from grocery stores to supercenters, drug stores to dollar stores, giant club stores to tiny discount stores, not to mention online grocers – that’s never been more true.

Photo by GabrielaP93

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