Safety and speed are top draws for c-stores in US
January 1, 2010
Cleanliness, lighting, and trustworthy customer services are largely the deciding factors for convenience store selection in the US, according to the latest Checkout report, a nationally representative survey of 1,200 adults conducted monthly by M/A/R/C Research.
Southern shoppers are more likely to choose a store for safety reasons, it says and married shoppers tend to prefer a ‘clean, well-lit’ store - presumably because they have children in tow.
However, convenience stores continue to struggle with the basics, says the report.
Although limited selection is the number one reason people avoid c-stores, five of the top six reasons are about the fundamentals: safety, staffing, and attractiveness. Safety is a bigger issue for women and shoppers in the Southern United States. Men report worrying less about safety, but they’re still concerned with an ‘unwelcoming store environment’.
The latest survey asked shoppers about their holiday shopping plans. It found half of shoppers (52%) anticipate spending less versus last year, but those between 35 and 64 years old are planning to cut back even more than other age groups. Although electronics stores are expected to be hit hardest, men and younger shoppers (18-34) say they’ll spend more in this channel. Mass merchandisers like Target and Wal-Mart will benefit most from these shifts in holiday shopping behavior, predicts the study.
Shoppers were already saving money in the back-to-school season, say researchers.
The Checkout reported shopping levels remained weak for September, with 59% of shoppers buying fewer and/or cheaper items in the past three months, up five percentage points from August.
Consistent with previous months, women continue to be more frugal than men. Compared to last month, older shoppers (65+) are being affected less by the recession and have not changed their shopping behavior.
Price and convenience continue to be everyday shopping goals, the report finds.
Spending as little as possible is up slightly in September as consumers are putting off restocking staple items. In general, older consumers focus more on the convenience aspect while younger shoppers place a heavier emphasis on saving money.
Money-saving tools such as coupons were less popular in September compared with the previous month. The Checkout suggests this is possibly due to fatigue, a return to old habits, or an ability to get better deals during back-to-school sales. Females are more likely to use money-saving tools than men, and shopper cards are more heavily used in the Northeast and Western US.
Shoppers are sticking with the familiar, however. The survey found shoppers continue to seek the lowest-priced products and appear to be sticking with them.
Households with income less than $25,000 are more likely than the norm to buy private-label products and less likely to buy on credit. Asian-American shoppers have a higher tendency to buy now using credit than other ethnicities do.
Price and selection issues still drive people to leave empty-handed, concludes the survey.
January 2010 Issue