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A new study by ACNielsen reports that “consumers made fewer trips to traditional grocery stores in 2004 as they sought greater savings, variety or convenience in other retail outlets.”

ACNielsen’s “Channel Blurring” study showed that the average American consumer made 69 trips to the grocery store in 2004, down from 72 in 2003. Every year since 1995, when ACNielsen U.S. began its annual analysis of consumer shopping patterns, the grocery channel has experienced declines in shopping frequency. That year, U.S. households made an average of 92 trips to stores in the channel.

Todd Hale, senior vice president, consumer insights, ACNielsen U.S., said, “There are certainly pockets of innovation within the grocery store channel where retailers are succeeding. However, as a channel, consumers are shifting their trips to formats where they can either save more money or accomplish more of their shopping in one trip.”

Dollar stores have enjoyed the strongest long-term growth in household penetration – driven by the channel’s rapid expansion – while supercenters have grown the most in terms of shopping trips.

According to Hale, "One hopeful sign for the grocery channel is that several chains have rolled out or are experimenting with new store formats. Others are increasing their use of micro-merchandising and marketing to better meet the unique needs of shoppers within their trade areas. Only time will tell, but those efforts toward differentiation may help stem the loss of shoppers to other formats."
KC's View:
They’d better do something. Because the fact remains that too many supermarkets have allowed themselves to become irrelevant and inconsequential.

By the way, d’ya think it is just a coincidence that at the same time that one study says people are using grocery stores less and less, another study says that retailers and shoppers view customer service from different angles?

Tom Peters once said that “if you hate change, you’re really going to hate irrelevance.” Or something like that.

It is an observation that is taking on greater and greater meaning for the supermarket industry.