Guest Column: The Checkout-Inside the In-Store Experience

The Checkout-Inside the In-Store Experience
By The Integer Group

For the most part, shopper preferences have remained in line with February results. However, there is an even stronger desire for value and savings versus the previous month. “Saving money while shopping around” as well as “save today, buy tomorrow” describe shoppers more so than in the prior month. Additionally, consumers continue to be divided between buying private-label and national brands as well as individual-sized items versus bulk items. Further, almost a quarter of consumers (22%) are playing it safe by sticking with known/familiar brands or items rather than trying something new.

Convenience and value still reign as consumers’ top criteria for store selection—with convenience playing a slightly larger role than in February of this year. Retailers may be more universally meeting consumer demands for value-priced offerings and, hence, location/convenience is surfacing as the key decision-driver.

Coupons (manufacturer 45%, store 36%), directional signs (45%), and shopper discount cards (42%), followed by newspaper circulars (36%) are the most used shopping aids. Emphasizing that value is still an important motivator, usage of store coupons continues to grow (36% compared to 31% in February) and offers stores a viable means to attract shoppers.

Consumer optimism, while still low, is beginning to show slight signs of improvement. In March, 48% of consumers reported negative feelings toward their current situation, an improvement over the 54% who were negative in February.  However, this sense of optimism might be based on consumers becoming more accustomed to the economy. More than a third of respondents (36%) feel that they are worse off than last month, while half feel they are in the same situation.

Shopping behavior continues to be negatively affected by the economy; more than six in ten consumers (62%) report buying fewer and/or cheaper items than three months ago. Women are the hardest hit, with 65% reporting buying fewer/cheaper items compared to 58% of men.

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