Modern supermarkets try to be everything to all people – you can get everything you need there to feed your family for the week, but you can also pick up whatever health care, personal care or other nonfood needs you might have on your list.

Or, you can go to a grocery store for your groceries and go somewhere else to get the rest.

A new survey finds that the vast majority of us are doing just that.

Acosta Group has shared the findings of a recent survey, in which it asked grocery shoppers where they typically buy their nonfood necessities. 87% said they usually end up buying their nonfood items somewhere other than grocery stores. And nearly 70% said they typically never visit the general merchandise, household products, personal care or health and beauty products aisles at their regular grocery stores at all.

Despite supermarkets’ efforts to promote themselves as one-stop shopping destinations, “shoppers think of grocery stores as being just for food and beverage purchases,” Acosta concluded.

Most shoppers instead head to mass merchandise stores like Walmart and Target for their nonfood products. Others choose to make these purchases at drug stores or online. The main reasons are price and selection – nearly half said they buy nonfood items at other stores because prices are lower there, with about the same number saying it’s because their preferred store has a better selection of the products they prefer.


Acosta says grocery stores need to do better before they lose these shoppers for good. 80% of shoppers said lower prices and better promotions could encourage them to shift more of their nonfood spending to grocery stores. And they’re much more likely to impulse shop for health, beauty and general merchandise products than they are for food items, so they’re more likely to pick up nonfood items they hadn’t planned on buying, if they’re on sale. So grocery stores must “overcome perceptions of high prices and take credit for good prices,” Acosta advises. “Implementation of simple promotions, such as discounts or temporary price reductions, buy one get one free (BOGOs), and loyalty/rewards programs will drive the greatest shopper interest.”

They also need to expand their nonfood selection, so shoppers don’t write them off as a nonfood destination altogether. “Customers want better variety, selection, and brand availability,” Acosta notes.

And if grocery retailers don’t act on Acosta’s advice, they could be in trouble – because a similar Acosta report last year found that grocery stores are even losing grocery business to the competition.

Last year, Acosta took something of an opposite approach in its survey – instead of asking grocery shoppers where they buy their nonfood items, they asked drug store shoppers where they buy their groceries. What they found was that drug store shoppers were as likely to buy grocery and household items at the drug store as they were prescriptions. “We heard repeatedly from drug store shoppers that convenient location, discounted pricing and one-stop shopping are appealing drivers in choosing drug stores over other retail options,” Acosta Group’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Insights and Trends Kathy Risch said in a statement.

While 71% of drug store shoppers went there primarily to pick up prescriptions, 69% said they also shop for groceries, personal needs or other products, with candy, snacks and household items like hair care, body care and paper products among their most frequent purchases. 57% cited convenience as the main reason, with 51% citing “good promotions and sales.”

Acosta’s latest report cited recent research that 114 million households shop at grocery stores each month. So there’s little danger that grocery stores as a group are going to disappear any time soon. But they are at risk of continuing to give up more and more potential nonfood sales to stores with better prices and selection. “Shopping habits are admittedly hard to break,” Acosta pointed out. And the more that shoppers get used to buying only groceries at the grocery store – the more that one-stop-shopping may become a thing of the past.

Image source: N i c o l a


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