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    Survey: Consumer Spending Habits Remain Tight

    Downturn economy will have a long-lasting impact.

    TORONTO -- The faltering U.S. economy is negatively impacting food shopping habits, a trend expected to continue, according to a recent nationwide survey by Precima, which found 82 percent of consumers said they intend to keep cooking at home instead of eating out even if the economy improves.

    Other key results of the survey included:

    -- Convenience foods such as frozen dinners (50 percent); snacks, including chips and cookies (46 percent); and dessert items such as ice cream and cake (44 percent) were the top categories consumers said they cut back when budgets are tight.

    -- When funds are low, 40 percent of respondents said they cut back on beer and wine. Consumers ages 21-34 are more likely to cut back on beer, wine and spirits spending (47 percent) than consumers ages 50-59 (37 percent).

    -- However, 32 percent of women said environmentally friendly products are worth the extra cost, compared to 21 percent of men.

    "Above any other money-saving strategy, consumers use specials in store flyers to determine where they shop. With the majority of consumers trying to make fewer trips to fewer stores, it's more important than ever for grocers to capture every possible visit," Precima general manager, Brian Ross, said in a statement. "Retailers with customer purchasing data from their loyalty programs can really use it to their advantage by picking the right products and providing the right incentives to attract customers to their stores versus competitors."

    Of those polled, 84 percent of consumers said they’ll use specials in-store flyers; 80 percent said they plan to use coupons as much as possible; and 78 percent said they will make fewer trips to save on gasoline.

    "Retailers who use data from their most important customers to determine new product opportunities, and to identify which brands to promote and which to give the most in-store presence, will have a significant advantage," Ross said in a statement.

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