Grocery Shoppers Increasing Spend, but Want More Value and Service: Study

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Grocery Shoppers Increasing Spend, but Want More Value and Service: Study


Despite recent economic turmoil, a majority (81 percent) of consumers are spending the same amount or more money on groceries in the last three months (August through October) than they did in the three months before, but they are expecting more value and service from retailers when they do so, according to a recent study from Coinstar, Inc.

The "Coinstar Grocery Snapshot Survey" explored consumer grocery spending trends of 1,052 primary household grocery shoppers ages 18 and older over the past three months and found that they are seeking and taking advantage of opportunities to save through a back-to-basics approach. Among the survey findings:

  • 56 percent of consumers have used more coupons within the past 6 months than they have in the past.
  • 57 percent of consumers say they are most encouraged to use loyalty or value cards when instant rewards are credited to their current purchase.
  • Consumers are relying more on the money they have in their pockets, using debit cards (42 percent) or cash (27 percent) as their primary form of payment for groceries.

“Despite the fact that consumer expectations for the economy are at an all time low since the onset of the recession, the data shows that shoppers are willing to spend money at the supermarket as long as they view their experience as streamlined and value-oriented,” said Engle Saez, VP of category management and consumer experience for Coinstar’s Coin business.

These trends are likely to continue through the holiday season, evidenced by National Retail Federation data showing that the 2011 holiday season will be “average,” with only a 2.8 percent increase in sales compared to the 5.2 percent increase that retailers experienced last year. Consumers are spending carefully by purchasing more grocery brands rather than private label brands (48 percent) and fewer discretionary, or non-necessity items, such as magazines or candy (42 percent).

“Grocers clearly have a tremendous opportunity to attract and build loyalty among shoppers this holiday season, by focusing on ways to increase the level of service, value, and simplicity they can offer to customers,” Saez added. “Retailers catering to the savvy shopper, through more options and flexibility, will position themselves for an advantage in today’s competitive market.”

When asked what constitutes great customer service in supermarkets, 63 percent cited knowledgeable and friendly employees; 62 percent said a varied, extensive, and well-organized inventory was key; and 61 percent responded that the ease and speed of the experience made possible by efficient staff was important.

One-third of shoppers value additional supermarket services that make running errands easier, such as self-service coin counting kiosks, banking, or DVD rentals. Recipe ideas, sampling or nutritional guidelines, and other above and beyond services, are also valued (27 percent).

Incentives were also viewed as important: Fifty-six percent of customers have used supermarket loyalty or value cards for their purchases in the last six months. Only 23 percent of consumers don’t have a supermarket loyalty or value card, evidence that grocers understand the importance of this growing trend and attracting loyal customers using incentives.

The Coinstar Grocery Snapshot Survey was conducted by Kelton Research between Oct. 13 and 20 via email invitation and online. Coinstar surveyed consumer grocery spending trends of 1,052 primary household shoppers over the age of 18 for the past three months (August through October).

Bellevue, Wash.-based Coinstar provides self-service coin-counting services and owns and operates the only multi-national, fully automated network of self-service coin-counting kiosks.