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CHICAGO -- Consumers are shopping less frequently in traditional grocery stores, while they are increasing their trips to supercenters like Wal-Mart and dollar stores, according to the latest "channel blurring" study from ACNielsen U.S., a sister company of Convenience Store News.
According to the ACNielsen study, supercenters and dollar stores are showing gains both in the percentage of households who shop in those channels and in the number of trips consumers take to them each year. The findings, based on an analysis of ACNielsen Homescan consumer panel data, were released yesterday at the annual Food Marketing Institute (FMI) convention.
"More than ever, grocery retailers have to create a unique reason for shoppers to choose them. The consumer has to associate the name on the store with something very positive and very different from the competition, whether it's the freshest produce or the most interesting and convenient-to-purchase prepared meals," said Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer insights for ACNielsen U.S. "Retailers could be doing much more with their frequent shopper databases to segment their customers and to develop strategies around each segment to grow their overall business."
All U.S. households still shop in traditional grocery stores, but the annual number of trips households make to such stores is continuing to decline. At the same time, both supercenters and dollar stores have shown strong gains in household penetration and smaller gains in annual trips.
Wal-Mart is gaining at the expense of the grocery channel is actually somewhat less than would be expected. "When you exclude the supercenter channel, grocery stores generated 40 percent of all-outlet revenue in 2001. Therefore, of the channel-shift revenue growth experienced by supercenters, we would expect 40 percent to come from the grocery channel," Hale said. "The fact that it was 32 percent means grocers are having at least some measure of success defending their turf."