Consumers going to the store less often

by Staff
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SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — According to The Nielsen Co., U.S. consumers are making fewer shopping trips to most retail outlets as they are looking to combine errands and save money as a result of rising gas prices and current economic conditions.

The average number of annual shopping trips per household to all retail outlets in 2006 was 170, and this number dropped to 164 in 2007. Supercenters continue to show some growth as they allow consumers to combine shopping trips. In 2006, the average number of annual shopping trips to supercenters per household was 26, and this number increased to 27 in 2007.

"Value and convenience are more important than ever as rising gas prices impact where and how often consumers shop," said Todd Hale, senior vice-president of consumer and shopper insights for Nielsen Consumer Panel Services. "Long-term trends show us that all value retailers — supercenters, warehouse clubs and dollar stores — are gaining in their quest to grab shoppers. Keep in mind, however, that some U.S. grocers reported stronger same-store-sales growth than supercenters or dollar stores in 2007. Proximity to shoppers and a healthy focus on convenience and value helped many of these grocers deliver solid results."

As a result of consumer desire for more value and convenience, there has been an increased number of store openings in the warehouse clubs, supercenters, dollar stores and convenience stores markets. Store closings and the converting of mass merchandise stores into supercenters has led to a decline in overall mass merchandise store count. And even though supermarket count is up, it has not achieved the growth rate of other retail channels, Nielsen said.

"Increased store count tells us that value and convenience are winning in the marketplace," Mr. Hale said. "Convenience retailers have expanded aggressively, but this channel is facing competitive pressure as ‘big-box’ retailers offer lower-priced gasoline, attracting consumers."

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