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The newest TNS Retail Forward ShopperScape report says that “shopper traffic and shopping frequency is down across most food, drug and mass channels - except supercenters, which is being driven by an increase in monthly shoppers at Walmart Supercenter. Tighter household budgets - due to a variety of factors including food price inflation, concerns about job security and declining home values - are altering the shopping behavior of consumers,” according to the report.

It goes on: “As the perception of value becomes increasingly important and the number of value-conscious shoppers seeking out retailers where they can realize the most cost- and time-savings across their whole shopping list grows, the low-price leader Walmart reaps the greatest benefits. The retailer’s supercenter format and one-stop shopping appeal allows shoppers to consolidate shopping trips, thereby saving time and gasoline.”

Other behavior shifts noted by the report:

• Gas prices may have come down, but last year’s high cost of fuel has created some long-term behavioral changes – “more than a third of shoppers now buy most of their gasoline at alternative outlets, such as supermarkets, supercenters or warehouse clubs.,” not convenience stores and traditional gas stations. “The decline in the monthly gasoline shopper base as well as the pullback on discretionary and impulse purchases by most shoppers do not bode well for c-stores,” the report says.

• “Despite a monthly shopper base of low-income consumers who are most susceptible to the economic downturn, dollar stores and other small-format value retailers will benefit as shoppers across income brackets turn to the channel for food and other household essentials,” the report says. On the other hand, warehouse clubs may be vulnerable because “further expected cutbacks in discretionary spending, particularly on big-ticket items, won’t help the channel going forward.”

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