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    Belts Won't Loosen for Food after Recovery: Survey

    Consumers in a survey by Precima said they'll continue cooking at home, hunting for specials, clipping those coupons.

    Chastened by a flatlining financial outlook, 82 percent of U.S. consumers in a nationwide survey said that they would keep cooking at home instead of eating in restaurants even after the economy recovers, indicating a long-term shift in national shopping behavior.

    In the poll, conducted by advanced analytics firm Precima, 80 percent of respondents said they'd continue to cook at home instead of buying takeout meals; 84 percent said they'd keep hunting specials in store fliers; 80 percent said they planned to use coupons as much as possible; and 78 percent said they'd make fewer trips to the store to save on gas.

    The survey asked consumers to identify shopping practices they'd continue, and also those they'd stop if the economy improves. Just about half of respondents said they plan to keep purchasing private label brands (54 percent) or to switch from preferred brands to value brands (44 percent). Just 32 percent said that switching to value brands is a practice they'd already adopted to save money.

    "Above any other money-saving strategy, consumers use specials in store fliers to determine where they shop," noted Brian Ross, general manager of Toronto-based Precima. "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. 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 vs. competitors'."

    Women are more likely than men to keep up the frugal shopping practices they've followed over the past six months, according to the research. Other practices they'll keep by gender include:
    --Cook at home (83 percent of women vs. 81 percent of men)
    --Make fewer trips to the store (80 percent74 percent)
    --Shop at low-price stores (68 percent61 percent)
    --Use more coupons (81 percent78 percent)
    --Look for specials in store fliers 84 percent-83 percent.

    Precima is a member of the LoyaltyOne family of companies. Its shopping habits survey was completed in late June by ICOM Information & Communications, a fellow LoyaltyOne company. The online survey results are based on a sample of 2,048 U.S. consumers nationwide.

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