During the past few months you would have been hard pressed to escape the exhausted media coverage of the nation’s changing shopping habits, with the demise of the big four and the rise of the power house German duo. There is no doubt about it; people are changing the way they shop, and it’s about time to! In the past our grocery shopping was left in the hands of the powerful players, leaving the consumer with little choice or control. Our shopping baskets went up in price for years, but now it finally seems some of the power has returned to us – but why?
The financial crisis has a lot to answer for when it comes to our shopping habits. The squeeze on living standards over the years has changed the way we want to shop. In many households price has trumped quality, and Aldi and Lidl have cashed in. The established players have cut prices, and at long last their once colossal profits, in an attempt to hold onto their customers. Kantar recently reported that a typical basket of everyday items is now 2.1% cheaper than it was a year ago, saving the customer money and removing £532 million from supermarket tills.
Shoppers no longer see Aldi and Lidl as cheap and nasty, but for what it is; good value. We are living in the era of the savvy shopper. A weekly shop in one supermarket still happens, but then the consumer makes smaller shopping trips across multiple supermarkets, convenience stores and online to get the best deals across the very competitive market.
The Big four Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons, are all seeing sales shrink and I can’t help but feel a bit smug! Sainsbury’s announced a colossal annual profits fall, the first in a decade and many supermarkets have been forced to abandon new store plans. The same Kantar report shows 25% of UK stores are having planning permission cancelled or stalled, as consumers choose to shop more locally. Fantastic news for Frank the local butcher!
Above all, there is no doubt that convenience is king and plays a big part of where we shop. According to Him! PR Resources & Consulting, “70% of us now use a convenience store, 96% a supermarket, 43% a discounter and 42% online grocery sites”, irrespective of cost. Price is the number one driver in supermarkets, discounters and online, but not in convenience stores, we are a nation who need things yesterday and are willing pay.
Price also becomes less of an issue to consumers when it’s the basket top up shop. This is where Waitrose, Mark & Spencer’s and many fine food delis come into play. The main weekly shop in Aldi and Lidl is done, but then we pop along to more expensive shops to get quality and sometimes local ad-ons. This means that the ‘top up’ market is the number one battle ground across convince stores, supermarkets AND discounters – the fight is on!
High end is giving ‘fine food’ everything they have. Speciality Fine food magazine states: “High Street retailer Marks & Spencer has launched a new range in-store, focusing on speciality foods from within the UK.” They know there audience and they need to do to keep hold of the fickle shopper.
The wind of change has blown, the affluent shopper isn’t embarrassed to be seen in discounters, and it’s now considered smart shopping to shop round. Let’s face it we are all guilty of lingering a little too long at the central bargain buckets of Lidl!
To conclude I don’t believe the weekly shop is dead, forecasts show that supermarkets will still be by far the biggest portion of the grocery industry even in 2019. How we shop is definitely become smarter, we are a nation of bargain hunters that still like enjoy fine food. I love a bit of Tesco, find me one person who doesn’t find themselves transfixed in the bakery, but it’s probably about time that there reign of price fixing terror is over. The market will be extremely challenging for the next 12 to 18 months but I think this can only spell positive change for the consumer.
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