Food-buying trips in play as prices rise

March 14, 2011

Shoppers, weary from price rises in 2011, fear more ahead and will travel to less expensive outlets.

Price wars are about to escalate.

Since coupon use is the #1 way people are saving money in the supermarket (84%) and two-thirds of consumers (68%) would seek out less costly retailers if food prices continue to rise in 2011, The Lempert Report anticipates more supermarkets will double coupons and offer other incentives to help keep traffic counts high.

This is one key takeaway from our exclusive Quick Poll of adult consumers nationwide.

Another major finding is the rising, large-scale opportunity for supermarkets to promote cooking at home through cooking classes, inventive recipes and other tactics that simplify the chore for households. People already eat at home more to save money, but this behavior will grow further because 84% of respondents say they ‘eat out less often’ to save in restaurants. 

A majority (52%) also redeem coupons to save money when eating out. This isn’t great news for the financial viability of restaurants because many coupon users are ‘shopping around’ and won’t likely become loyal, regular customers. Groupon and similar sites might benefit, but restaurateurs could find their promotional costs too big to chew.

The bad news for restaurants could become good news for supermarkets – if they strategize now to make cooking at home more feasible for more customers, and if they step up with appealing prepared meals that break out of the typical offering rut.

Already, 93% of respondents have seen prices rise on items they buy in the supermarket, vs. 64% who seen menu prices rise in the restaurants they visit. Six out of ten (59%) say they’ve seen greater price hikes in supermarkets.

Respondents made it clear in the survey that their trips are in play – in both retail and restaurants – if food prices rise more this year. They might even travel several miles or more to shop, they said.

All of which should place home cooking on the front burner for supermarkets right away.