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According to a recent How America Shops® PULSE report that compares the demographic shift in shoppers by retail channel from the second quarter of 2009 with the year-ago period, supermarkets have captured the highest share of shoppers, after ranking a close second behind mass merchandisers for several years.
The obvious reason for the growth of supermarkets, according to New York-based WSL Strategic Retail, which conducts the PULSE research, is the spending cuts shoppers have made in takeout food and restaurant dining, which has resulted in more cooking at home with food bought at supermarkets. Additionally, since, as PULSE has found in a previous report, 46 percent of shoppers stay away from stores where they’re tempted to overspend, a mass merchandiser offers too many options to a shopper who really only needs to buy food.
The latest PULSE report also found that convenience and drug stores are increasing share of shoppers, which may seem counterintuitive to the frugal-shopper mindset, but actually makes sense because when shoppers don’t stock up, they run out. Although c-store prices are often higher, if a store is close by and the shopper saves on gas and time, then the trade may be worth it. Meanwhile, drug stores are seeing their biggest lift among middle-aged, middle-income shoppers, who, as in the case of convenience stores, may prefer a nearby drug store when they run out of something, or find it a better choice than a trip to a lower-priced mass merchandiser, which can easily lead to overspending. Additionally, Internet shopping is up among affluent consumers, who are sure they can find the best prices online.
Also seeing a higher number of affluent shoppers are mass merchandisers. In fact, the PULSE report found that for the first time, the share of affluent shoppers in this channel equals those of lower and middle-income groups. Warehouse clubs, however, have experienced a significant decline in younger shoppers, who may have realized that their smaller households were wasting a lot of what they believed to be saving by purchasing big club sizes.