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NGA And Nielsen: Shoppers Still Prefer Local Store To Online Alternatives

NGA And Nielsen: Shoppers Still Prefer Local Store To Online Alternatives

The National Grocers Association (NGA) released findings yesterday from the third annual National Grocery Shoppers Survey, conducted by Nielsen on behalf of NGA. This year’s survey reflects consumer attitudes and behaviors from both The Harris Poll consumer panel and Nielsen’s panel-based Independent Grocer Shopping database, a new subset of the Nielsen Homescan panel, making this the largest and most developed view into today’s independent grocery shopper, NGA says.

According to the latest survey, two-thirds (64 percent) of independent shoppers are very/extremely satisfied with their local supermarket. In fact, more than 80 percent of shoppers prefer their local store to an online alternative.  Additionally, independent grocers are strongly associated with friendly employees, quality meats and produce and easy-to-navigate layout.

“There’s no doubt that the supermarket industry is rapidly changing, either because of the growth of e-commerce or the explosion of new formats, along with shifting consumer trends. However, independent grocers are nimble enough to quickly overcome obstacles and with strong ties to their communities, they know what consumers want and need,” said Peter Larkin, president and CEO of NGA.

“In today’s omnichannel retail environment, independent grocers maintain a unique and strong connection with their shoppers,” said Jeanne Danubio, EVP of retail lead markets at Nielsen. “Complementing the findings of this year’s survey, Nielsen’s new independent buyer group panel data shows that a loyal independent grocery shopper spends more than 40 percent more in grocery than the average shopper. It will be critical for independent grocers to maintain the quality and personal connections that keep these valuable consumers coming back to the independent store.”

Key findings of this year’s research include:

E-commerce insights

More than 80 percent of shoppers prefer their local store to an online alternative, and those who do grocery shop online do it in addition to shopping in store (68 percent), with the majority of their purchases (75 percent) done at the store. Convenience is the main reason for shopping online for groceries, while the need to see items and concerns about freshness are the biggest barriers to online shopping.

While a small group of shoppers (11 percent) shop online, food delivery is the preferred method of shopping. Over three quarters (76 percent) of shoppers who have purchased groceries online have used food delivery compared to 39 percent who have used the “click-and-collect” method. The most commonly purchased food is packaged foods (14 percent), followed by general merchandise/health and beauty care (10 percent) and cleaning products (10 percent). Nearly 3 in 10 (27 percent) shoppers indicated that they anticipate an uptick in their online grocery shopping over the next five years.

Driving Health and Wellness

The majority of Independent shoppers (63 percent) expect their grocery stores to support them with a healthier lifestyle. The top recommendations included: Instructions on how to cook with certain foods (28 percent); help with label reading including ingredients and nutritional claims (25 percent); and general guidance on food that gives good nutritional value for the dollar (23 percent). Shoppers were almost split on where healthy foods should be displayed, with 58 percent saying that healthy food alternatives should be shelved alongside other food items, compared to 42 percent who think healthy food should be in its own section, separate from main aisles.

Key areas that are valued most

When considering where to shop for groceries Independents shoppers value low prices, quality meats and produce, friendly staff, cleanliness and offering locally grown produce and other packaged goods. Almost seven in 10 shoppers (67 percent) have no plans to switch from their independent store.

Areas of needed improvement

Independent supermarket operators need to improve their website usability, with consistent pricing online and offline, the same products online and in-store, and an easy-to-use smartphone app.

The National Survey of Grocery Shoppers was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of the NGA among 3,008 adults, ages 18 and over between Nov. 13-Dec. 8, 2017, using a sample from The Harris Poll Panel who self-identified themselves as independent shoppers. Additional analytics were derived from Nielsen’s panel-based Independent Grocer shopper database of 44,000 consumers. Loyal independent shoppers are those that spend 50 percent or more of their reported shopping at an independent grocery store.

About the author


An 11-year employee of The Shelby Report who writes for and about food. In previous lives, she worked at a police department in Texas and an amusement park in Arkansas. She also was a newspaper publisher for more than a decade. Not sure which of those qualified her for this job.

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