Consumers Watching Their Food Spending

April 5/New York/States News Service -- A new Nielsen report finds that consumers are still keeping a close eye on food spending, Marketing Daily reports.

"We're seeing a continuation of people pulling back from making shopping trips," said Todd Hale, Nielsen senior vice president of consumer and shopper insights.

Price still consumes shoppers, who spend time planning their trips and using coupons, but Hale cautions retailers not to only think about price and value. "If all you do is focus on price and value, you're not going to win. To make your chain a place people want to shop, you need other points of differentiation," he said.

Americans are shopping less often, with a 4% year-over-year drop in monthly trips to all food stores in February. That downward trend appears to be continuing, with shoppers stopping at fewer stores each 2009 period than in the year previously.

"Our attitudinal research shows that in addition to shopping at fewer stores, planned shopping is the norm," said Hale. "They are paying attention to store circulars, doing comparative store checks and making lists."

Consumers continue to shop at grocery stores the most, even though supermarket trips declined over the past four months. Supercenters and club stores experienced positive trip increases during 2009, but this year, those trips have dropped a bit "because consumer confidence is low and people are holding back, and there were some poor weather conditions early in the year," he said.  

From the April 12, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition