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Convenience's Share of Grocery Sales Holding Steady

FORT LEE, N.J. -- Convenience stores and drug stores are still attracting around the same percentage of grocery-shopping consumers, but dollar stores are increasingly luring customers away from other outlets, according to Perception Research Services International's (PRS) second annual shopper research survey focused on grocery sales and shopping trends.

Supermarkets remained the primary channel where consumers purchased groceries during the last three months, with 91 percent of consumers doing so, from 92 percent one year ago, according to PRS. Mass merchandisers, where 73 percent of consumers purchase groceries (down from 76 percent in 2011) remain their largest competitors.

An increasing number of consumers purchase groceries at dollar stores; 35 percent in 2012 vs. 32 percent in 2011.

C-stores and drug stores are holding steady, with 23 percent of consumers purchasing groceries at c-stores (24 percent in 2011) and 46 percent (27 percent in 2011) at drug stores.

Consumers purchase beverages and food items generally at the same rate at mass merchandisers and dollar stores, but purchase cleaning supplies and personal care items more often at dollar stores, survey results show. Additionally, shelf-stable products at dollar stores are most competitive with mass merchandisers. These preferences are driving a shift from supermarkets and mass merchandisers to dollar stores, PRS stated.

The survey also shows that consumers target supermarkets for selection; mass merchandisers and dollar stores for price; and drug and c-stores for convenience.

More consumers are trying to save money by taking advantage of sales and coupons (83 percent) and quantity/size control (70 percent) this year than in 2011, according to PRS. The number of consumers who claim to have switched brands to cut costs jumped sharply to 61 percent from 49 percent one year ago. This could be especially relevant for 18-to-24 year olds who are establishing potentially lifelong shopping patterns.

"Our latest findings on grocery shopping indicate how very discerning today's shoppers are -- about their venue preferences as well as brand choices," said Jonathan Asher, executive vice president at PRS. "Retailers must understand their competitive strengths and capitalize on them, while also making the necessary adjustments to their offerings to seize opportunities for a larger slice of the pie as shoppers are more open to new shopping possibilities than they have been since the 1950's with the advent of large, supermarket chains."

The online study was conducted among more than 1,500 shoppers aged 18 and older in June 2012.

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