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Report: Consumers focus on fewer stores, lower prices

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO Shoppers are cutting back on the number of stores they are visiting, concentrating visits on stores known for lower prices and generally visiting stores less frequently and spending less per trip, according to a report SymphonyIRI Group released Thursday titled “The New Path to Purchase: An Escalation of Channel & Consumption Migration.”

“Shoppers are not enjoying the same financial success as corporations this spring and summer, and their continued search for lower-cost retail channels reflects this,” stated John McIndoe, SVP marketing at SymphonyIRI. “In addition to potential pressure on retailer revenues and margins, these trends point to managers having fewer chances to ‘get it right’ with shoppers. If a shopper visits a store and is unhappy with the experience, she will quickly go elsewhere.”

Grocery remained the dominant channel, with 98.4% penetration over the 52 weeks ended June 27. Other leading channels included drug (77% penetration), mass merchandise (71.6%) and supercenters (69.5%).

Supercenters enjoyed the largest penetration increase of 190 basis points, followed by dollar stores with a 50 basis point increase. Mass merchandise penetration fell 230 basis points, while convenience store penetration declined 1.9 points and drug dropped 50 basis points.

The number of shoppers visiting fewer than five stores has increased every quarter since second quarter 2009. In contrast, those shopping at five to nine stores in the same time frame has dropped every quarter but one. The number of people shopping at 10 or more stores has remained approximately the same.

Overall, trip frequency began to decline consistently starting in fourth quarter 2009; in second quarter 2010, it declined nearly 2% versus the same period the prior year, driven by declines in the convenience store and mass merchandise channels, which experienced slides of 9% and 7%, respectively. Across most other channels, average purchase occasions remained fairly steady.

Dollars per purchase occasion, which were growing at approximately 5% in third quarter 2008 versus the same period the prior year, fell flat in third quarter 2009 and now are declining by more than 1%. While grocery, supercenter and club channels have seen average basket size slide over the past year, convenience, dollar and drug stores enjoyed significant increases of 8%, 3.8% and 1.7%, respectively.

A majority of trip missions have seen total trips to retailers decline steadily for nearly all categories since second quarter 2009. The exception is quick trips, or small “need-it-now” shopping excursions, which remained constant for the second half of 2009 and then jumped dramatically in second quarter 2010. Similarly, basket size across trip missions has declined most quarters since second quarter 2009. Once again, quick trips were the exception, consistently demonstrating increased basket size each quarter, beginning in third quarter 2009.

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Target to provide flu immunizations in pharmacies and clinics

BY Jim Frederick

MINNEAPOLIS Gearing up for flu season, Target will launch its nationwide flu vaccination program at its more than 1,600 pharmacies and Target Clinic locations beginning Sept. 1.

Target pharmacists and clinicians will administer the flu shots, at a cost of $24, during regular pharmacy and in-store clinic hours, including weekday evenings and weekends. Target Clinic locations also will offer the nasal spray for $36.

No appointment will be necessary for flu shots, which will protect against both the seasonal flu and H1N1 virus. The company said it would “accept many major insurance plans, which may cover the full cost of the flu vaccine.”

Keri Jones, Target SVP merchandising, said the goal will be to make the 1,743-store chain “the complete prevention destination.”

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CDMA hires Fruth Pharmacy vet as SVP

BY Antoinette Alexander

NOVI, Mich. The Chain Drug Marketing Association last week named Bob Messick to the newly created position of SVP.

“Bob’s past retail experience with Fruth Pharmacy for 28 years will be a positive addition to our CDMA staff,” stated Jim Devine, president of CDMA. “Bob has also served on the CDMA board of directors and CDMA strategic planning committee. His knowledge from having served in these positions will be a great asset to CDMA.”

In the past two years, CDMA has experienced 25% growth in sales and membership.

Messick’s responsibilities at CDMA will include purchasing, marketing and advertising. He will report directly to Devine and will start Aug. 30. Messick has relocated from West Virginia to Brighton, Mich., with his wife, Julia, and their three sons.

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