Nielsen released a list of overall shopping trends hitting the retail market.
Among them, the downward trend of consumers shopping less reached a new low in February, with a 4% year-over-year decline in monthly all-outlet shopping trips. (All outlets included: supercenters, club stores, grocery stores, dollar stores, drug and mass merchandisers.) Retailers are focusing more on store brands (private label) and retail price cuts, which has helped keep spending levels in check, driving more value for shoppers.
Nielsen’s analysis showed consumers consistently shopped fewer retailers each period in 2009 compared with 2008, instead of shopping around for deals. Customers shopped twice as often at grocery stores compared with competitive retail channels, yet grocery trips in the last four months were down. Value channels, such as dollar stores, warehouse clubs and supercenters, fared the best, showing growth in most periods in the last year and a half. Only supercenter and club stores had positive trip growth in each period in 2009, but both declined slightly in 2010 as consumer confidence remained low, and poor weather conditions impacted major population centers.
Drug, convenience and regular mass merchandiser formats continued to take a hit, although drug trips are showing signs of improvement as consumers stock up on meds during cold and flu season. Meanwhile, discretionary retailers, such as toy, electronic, department, liquor and home improvement stores, continued to feel the pinch. Electronic, toy and department stores were hit especially hard.
So what’s a retailer to do? Nielsen’s Todd Hale, senior vice president of Consumer & Shopper Insight advised retailers battling less store traffic to satisfy loyal shoppers with savings linked to shopper frequency and spending levels. Retailers also can try enticing new shoppers with promotional offers (free reusable shopping bags or products); or offering value and low prices. Most importantly, retailers should stake a claim to at least one or two points of differentiation to maintain a competitive advantage.