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The new edition of Facts, Figures & The Future looks at how the recession is having an impact on consumer shopping habits.

For one thing, it has an interesting piece about the growth of dollar stores, noting that “supermarkets that once hoped the dollar stores would continue to stay as irritants rather than threats may find themselves in a long-term squeeze between these small-format stores and mammoth supercenters, even after the economy recovers. That will depend on how much dollar stores do to leverage this opportunity.

“Meanwhile, the one-dollar price point range seems to hold more magic today than at anytime in recent memory. Traditional wintertime dollar day sales at supermarkets continue to attract pantry loaders who stock up on canned goods—perhaps with more vigor since everyday prices have shot up over the past year. Some retailers succeed with a dollar wall of general merchandise such as small toys and other impulse grabs—a tiny high-margin oasis that rewards kids for behaving while moms shop … Prices may not literally be one dollar per package—they might be closer to $2—but they could be significantly less than that per serving on many healthful foods in the store. Think pasta, canned seafood, frozen drinks, yogurt, produce, chicken, pork, ground turkey, beans, canned prepared foods and soup, for example.

“Nielsen Scantrack data suggest that shoppers are finding ways to scout out these items on their own, and figure out cheap ways to create meals or, say, bake tempting cupcakes for a young girl's birthday party. Stores may prefer to sell the $15 cake from the fresh bakery showcase, but the mom who buys cupcake mix, icing, sprinkles and candles has saved money and had a more involved shop-and-prep experience.”

In another F3 story, Anne-Marie Roerink, director of research at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), writes about how the “recession is making its impact felt throughout the grocery channel. Shoppers of all regions, ages and incomes are adapting their spending and gastronomic choices. The dire economic conditions are influencing shoppers' decisions over dining out, cooking frequency, store selection, brand preference, reaction to marketing and sales promotions, willingness to try new products, nutrition and the list goes on.

“According to FMI's U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2009, the effect on food consumption and shopping is tremendous — presenting both difficulties and opportunities for the industry. Up significantly from 48 percent in 2008, no less than 69 percent of shoppers say that the recession is affecting their grocery shopping.”

This means, Roerink writes, that shoppers are using a number of strategies, including saving money by eating out less, seeking out money-saving measures at the supermarkets they patronize, and are switching their primary grocery stores to find a location more in synch with their current needs.

Furthermore, “This increased focus on price and value is playing out in channel selection and causing further erosion of the supermarket share. Down from 60 percent in 2009, 56 percent of shoppers identified a full-service supermarket as the store where they spent the majority of their grocery budget. Supercenters, while trailing far behind, gained ground again and captured 27 percent of the market. The same pattern holds true for the secondary store. The recession is causing more consumers to shop at discount stores, limited assortment stores and warehouse clubs to stretch their food dollar. Shoppers say lower prices, especially meat prices, would prompt them to shop their primary store more frequently … So what does this all mean for the balance of 2009? Clearly shoppers are making major changes in their attitudes and purchase patterns as outlined in this report. Many of these changes appear to be quite durable and not likely to be abandoned quickly even after the economy improves. This offers important new opportunities for those able to respond quickly and connect with their own shoppers in innovative new ways. Retailers who accomplish this will build a sustainable competitive advantage that will serve them well for years to come.”

And, there’s much more.

To get your copy of F3, go to:

F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

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