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Superstores No Longer Used for ‘Weekly Shop’
Arc UK study reveals changing digital nature of the way we shop

Online grocery shopping has redefined what a big weekly shop looks like, and therefore superstores are not necessarily the primary destination for our big shop. For shoppers, online is becoming the domain of the ‘super shop’, with the average online weekly shopping amounting to £81 compared to £76 in supermarket stores. These are the findings of a new study by Arc UK into our shopping habits, which reveal that shoppers visit stores with a specific purpose or mission in mind regardless of the store format they choose to shop in.

The ChannelShop study follows on from its hugely successful PeopleShop programme in 2012. 

ChannelShop, a state-of-the-art mobile study, talked to shoppers just before their shop and directly afterwards, gaining an immediate insight into their experience to better assess their true attitudes, motives and actual behaviour. The findings taken from a sample of 2000 smartphone enabled shoppers covers all four key grocery channels – supermarket, convenience, traditional convenience and online. 

The research makes it clear that supermarkets have a high proportion of shopper missions (57%) other than just big or weekly shops as consumers use the supermarkets as a top-up shop, to buy a specific item or even to buy food to eat straight away. But it is also evident, from the study, that increasingly shoppers are using online as the channel for a ‘super shop’ therefore redefining what the big weekly shopping is.

On average, shoppers are spending £5 more for the equivalent shop done in store. 79% online are buying 20+ different items, compared with just 68% in store and the average value of each shop online is £81, compared to £76 in the supermarket aisles. 

On big shops, a broader number of items are being bought online than in the supermarket big shop, and with a higher average spend. And just like our supermarket baskets, online big weekly shops tend to focus largely on items such as fresh, chilled and staples such bread, meat, fish, drinks and cereals. It comes as little surprise that key categories like soft drinks and cupboard-food exhibit incrementally stronger demand in the online big shop, than for the equivalent supermarket big weekly shop. 

The creation of the ‘Super Weekly Shop’ online has led to the phenomenon of an equivalent ‘Super Top Up Shop’ in the supermarket – 60% bigger than the average value of the equivalent shopper mission in smaller format, and with a broader range of items. The average value of a top-up shop in supermarket is £24, compared to £15 in the grocery convenience. 

The study also highlights that unplanned and spontaneous spending is rife in all channels. Unplanned spending is highest in grocery convenience outlets (+8.4%) compared to traditional convenience outlets (+2.2%). In the convenience outlets, the key categories where shoppers’ purchase is higher than the intention include the impulsive treats such as crisps, snacks, confectionary and biscuits, but also cites bread/bakery and soft drinks as highly spontaneous categories.

Arc reveals that both online and supermarket channels are falling short in converting certain core products on the big weekly shop – such as dairy, cereal and household cleaners. The study explains that these ‘failed purchases’ are largely related to offer or price, in which case the shopper found the product elsewhere. Poor availability or lack of the right deals account for many failed purchases, even on big shops. 

Michelle Whelan, Managing Partner at Arc London, says: “These fascinating insights can help plan better a brand’s multi-channel shopper activations and tailor messages and touch-points dependant on the format. It’s no longer sufficient to assume that convenience outlets are shopped for immediate consumption and supermarkets for future consumption”.