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Grocery Shopping Takes More Than One Stop

Increasingly, Americans are no longer satisfied with shopping for food in one store.
July 21, 2017

​QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. – For more consumers today, buying groceries involves multiple trips to several stores, USA Today reports. Half of U.S. supermarket shoppers visit three or more stores to purchase bread, milk and household products and buy five items or more per store, according to the Magid research company.

This way of shopping echoes the way Americans shopped before the advent of the modern supermarket in the mid-20th century. While most U.S. consumers aren’t visiting a butcher, baker and produce seller like their ancestors, today’s shopper stops by the big box, warehouse, natural foods, specialty and no-frills stores to fill their grocery lists.

“If you look at a traditional 40,000 [to] 50,000-square-foot supermarket, it’s a dinosaur. It’s extinct,” said Phil Lempert with supermarketguru.com. “People don’t want to go to one store and walk up and down the aisles and look at 50,000 products. It’s just not a great experience.”

Pushing the shift toward more stores has been the rising popularity of small markets, along with the upheaval in the specialty food market and more loyalty to house brands. “We’re in the throes of the decline of the one-stop shop,” said Matt Sargent, senior vice president at Magid. “We’re seeing smaller specialty stores pulling from super centers and the traditional grocery stores.”

To fight back, supermarkets are reinventing themselves as fun places to be, even while filling a shopping basket, by focusing on in-store events, specialty and local products, and prepared foods. “We don’t just look at our competitors as being traditional grocery stores. We’re starting to shift our thinking to ‘share of stomach.’ There’s $1.5 trillion that Americans spend on food, whether a grocery store, convenience store [or] dollar store. We want a greater stake,” said Kristal Howard, Kroger spokeswoman.