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In recent years there has been much talk of us Brits ditching the weekly ‘big’ shop in favour of regular ‘top up’ shopping. However, our research of 1,000 consumers has shown this is certainly not the case, well not yet at least.

The Opinium Retail Tracker has shown that 78% of people tend to do weekly ‘big’ shops, 49% of which are topped up with additional visits to supermarkets to get those extra recipe ingredients or day to day essentials, buying on average seven items per trip.

There is an interesting dynamic when looking at the shopping habits of the younger generation with 61% of 18-24 year olds doing a weekly big shop with top-ups compared to 43% of 25-34 year olds. However, the 25-34 year olds are actually the age group who are most likely to just conduct a weekly “big shop” potentially reflecting these groups need for value and bulk buying and certainly proving that the big shop is far from dead but the way it is being done is evolving.

Doing your weekly shop on the phone

Online grocery shopping continues to grow in popularity especially among younger groups, with nearly 40% of 25-34-year olds choosing to shop this way, compared to an average among the total consumer group of 19%. Smartphone grocery shopping is also on the up, with 25% of those who do their big shop online choosing this as their main shopping device, highest among 25-44-year olds.

Discounters top in-store satisfaction

The discounter bubble hasn’t burst yet as it’s been another strong year for Aldi, growing 1.1% in market share in the last year, attracting new customers away from the ‘big 4’ who all either decreased or just maintained their market share in the same time frame. Clearly, Aldi’s in-store experience is becoming more and more appealing to British consumers, the same being said for Lidl with both retailers scoring highest for satisfaction by in-store grocery shoppers.

Currently, Aldi doesn’t sell its full range of products online and Lidl doesn’t have an online shopping service at all to the dismay of some shoppers. It’s pretty safe to say, based on in-store performance so far, that if and when the discounters fully enter the online market they will further disrupt the current status quo.

The death of the loyalty scheme?

Supermarket loyalty schemes have traditionally been a way to engage and attract customers, however, the attraction could be on wain. Younger people are less convinced by the benefits with 1 in 10 18-24-year-old grocery shoppers suggesting that they’ve never been a loyalty scheme member, nor would it be something that they would ever be interested in.

To further demonstrate the difference in perceptions by age, over a third (37%) of those aged 18-34 say they aren’t currently members of any type of supermarket loyalty scheme compared to only 13% of those aged 45+. The increase in popularity of the discounters who don’t offer such schemes but instead offer very competitive prices continually could have something to do with it. Supermarkets who do offer loyalty schemes need to get back on the front foot, communicating the benefits but also re-appraising the offer to make sure it is still compelling and relevant to younger consumers.

Healthy but not organic

Only 19% of the chief shoppers claimed to mainly buy organic produce when they go food shopping, but that doesn’t mean to say healthy food choices aren’t a priority. As a nation we have become more obsessed than ever before on what goes into the products we’re consuming, which, as a result, has changed our overall shopping behaviour.

Three in five shoppers agreed that their food choices are becoming increasingly more health-focused. The majority believe that they now pay more attention to the ingredients that go into their meals than they used to before and in addition, seven in 10 claim that most of the meals they cook are put together from scratch (using raw ingredients) as opposed to consuming pre-prepared foods/ meals. Interestingly, younger age groups in general seem to be much more focused on healthy food consumption, over indexing on all the above findings in comparison to those aged 45+.

The future

Grocery shopping hasn’t completely turned on its head but it is evolving. The big weekly shop is very much still a ‘thing’ and most of us still love the big four supermarkets. But, the way we shop is changing and grocery retailers need to pay attention. Compared to ten years ago, the way we buy food, the retailers we visit to purchase it and the types of food we want to consume are now all very different. However, it’s not only what people are doing but who is doing it. Our research has uncovered key differences particularly within age and while we know behaviour changes as we get older, never have we had such flexibility around shopping which will undoubtedly shape new behaviours and trends. For a supermarket to hold / gain in such a changing environment it’s imperative to prove competitive in three core areas: engagement on multiple channels, value for money and convenience when it comes to dietary choices and lifestyle.

Carolyn O’Meara, senior researcher, Opinium