When you can’t find good deals on your groceries, just shop wherever the groceries are cheapest. That seems to be what many of us are doing these days, based on a new analysis of our shopping habits.

The location analytics company Placer.ai measures real-time foot traffic to retail stores across the country. And over the past year, it’s found that many shoppers are opting for stores where they know they’re not going to have to pay too much.

“Customers are increasingly seeking out value, and discount and dollar stores are reaping the benefits,” Placer.ai noted in a new report. “The value-focused category is seeing its relative visit share rise, perhaps thanks to its recent emphasis on affordable grocery offerings.”

That supports Placer.ai’s recent year-end analysis, which found that discount grocery chains “saw some of the greatest year-over-year visit growth” in 2023, “as shoppers – including higher-income segments – sought to counter inflation with lower-priced food-at-home alternatives.”

Placer.ai’s findings showed the discount chain Grocery Outlet Bargain Market saw the greatest annual increase in foot traffic, 16.8% higher than the prior year, followed by the low-priced ALDI, Trader Joe’s and Market Basket.


Shoppers are also seeking out grocery savings at less traditional locations, like general merchandise discounters and dollar stores. More people over the past year have been more likely to look for bargain-priced food products at places like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet or Dollar Tree. Placer.ai called them “ideal destinations for cash-strapped consumers seeking bargain merchandise… Shoppers frequented these chains year-round for everything from groceries to home goods, propelling the category firmly into the mainstream.”

While discount chains made a strong showing, more traditional grocery chains that offer more traditional savings opportunities are at the top of the most-frequently-shopped list. Placer.ai’s data showed that the country’s most-visited grocer in 2023 was Kroger. Of the ten most-frequented grocery chains, Kroger-owned stores captured almost 19% of annual foot traffic. That, of course, is partly because Kroger is a virtually national chain with stores in most parts of the country. But regional chains did well, too – heavily-promotional stores like H-E-B, Meijer, Food Lion and ShopRite were also in top ten, as was ALDI.

Overall, visits to these chains tended to come from shoppers in more affluent areas, as less-affluent shoppers are “more likely to seek out lower-cost grocery alternatives like dollar stores.” The highest-income shoppers could be found at Trader Joe’s. Stores like ShopRite and Safeway attracted shoppers with above-average incomes, while the least affluent shoppers tended to be found at Kroger and ALDI.

Placer.ai is also able to monitor how long shoppers typically spend at the store. In the past, some might have kept their trips short – stopping by the store a few times a week, after work perhaps, just to pick up a few things. But lately, Placer.ai has found that shopping trips are becoming less frequent, but longer. “Customers spent more time browsing grocery aisles, loading up on essentials and making every trip to the store count” – and possibly spending more time comparing prices and ensuring they’re getting the best deals.

“For grocery stores, 2023 was all about value,” Placer.ai concluded, “with many customers flocking to discount chains and going out of their way to maximize savings. Traditional grocery chains still capture the largest pieces of the grocery pie, but nontraditional grocery competitors are increasingly nipping at their heels.

So your search for savings may take you to stores you haven’t frequently visited before. Or, you may be spending more time at your regular grocery store, seeking out the best deals. Whichever it is, look for an update soon on how our 2024 shopping habits are evolving – because now you know that a location analytics company will be watching.

Image source: Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

One Comment

  1. As a Senior and not finding food coupons anymore, I check the store’s weekly sales and make a list. If I have to go to 1 or 3 stores I will to get a deal on products I need/use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Privacy Policy
Disclosure Policy