Holidays could have been heftier

January 20, 2012

Out-of-stocks appear to have cost supermarkets this past Christmas season, says a study released at NRF.

Did inventory planning and store-level execution fall short in supermarkets this past Christmas season? If so, how damaging was it to the stores and brands that left sales opportunities unfulfilled?

It appears potential wasn’t nearly met during a period families are excited to buy particular brands and items for special meals, indicate findings of a post-holiday shopper survey released by Aldata at this week’s National Retail Federation Conference in New York City.

Food and beverage topped the list of out-of-stocks, reported by 53% of U.S. adults surveyed. This frequency exceeded those of toys and games (39%), apparel and footwear (39%), consumer electronics (30%), and video games and consoles (25%), which rounded out the top five OOS categories, the findings showed. 

The study looked at shoppers in both grocery and other kinds of retail stores, so it seems likely that the behavior of food and beverage shoppers paralleled that of U.S. shoppers overall.  Shoppers’ retail experience this past holiday season led 31% to say items they sought were OOS – and the empty shelves drove 46% of this group to competing stores to try to find the items. In addition, 14% left the initial store without buying anything.

Shoppers trying to save time and money also said it annoys (38%) and frustrates (28%) them when a supermarket adopts a new layout.  Why? Nearly half (45%) organize their shopping lists to coincide with a supermarket’s layout. And nearly half (48%) are skeptical of the motive – they believe it’s done to drive store performance by exposing shoppers to more purchase enticements.

Also, 62% estimate a new store layout adds more than five minutes to their trip, and 30% estimate more than 10 minutes.