PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Shop Talk: Consumers Return to Brick-and-Mortar Grocery for Summer

Kroger store

As grocery shoppers settle into the warmer months, many are shifting away from eCommerce back to brick-and-mortar stores with more time to make their food purchases.

Melissa Myres, director of insights at grocery giant The Kroger Co.’s retail data science, insights and media subsidiary 84.51°, told PYMNTS in an interview that many grocery shoppers spend more time in physical stores during the warmer months.

“That could be for a variety of reasons,” Myres said. “It’s lighter longer. They might have a schedule where it’s easier for them to find time. They don’t maybe have to worry about weird weather conditionsWe’ve got more foot traffic heading to the brick-and-mortar side of the [grocery] world.”

Additionally, she explained, as grocery shoppers’ summer buying preferences combine with their overall inflation-related budgeting decisions, many consumers are buying food to grill at home rather than going out to a restaurant, contributing to a rise in meat sold in the last 12 weeks “mostly driven by units,” with shoppers buying more meat per purchase.

Inflation has many shoppers seeking alternatives to dining out. The PYMNTS Intelligence study “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: Inflation Slowly Ebbs, but Consumer Outlook Remains Gloomy” found that 78% of consumers have been eating at home more often to save money amid inflation.

Deal-seeking shoppers may be more digitally engaged than their less price-concerned counterparts. Amid consumers’ ongoing economic anxieties, Myres highlighted how bargain-motivated shoppers have been turning to digital channels to help make their grocery purchases more affordable.

“People do say that once they start shopping in a digital way, it does help them save money because they can spend a little bit more time price-comparing, looking for the best deals, seeing if there’s a digital coupon available,” she said. “Kroger.com makes it very easy for folks to see what coupon is available, and you can just click it and add it.”

PYMNTS Intelligence research revealed that consumers who live paycheck to paycheck and struggle to pay their monthly bills are likeliest of all to be digitally engaged, at 53% digital engagement versus the overall population’s 46%.

Plus, the PYMNTS Intelligence study “Consumer Inflation Sentiment: The False Appeal of Deal-Chasing Consumers” found that 44% of grocery shoppers are deal chasers, willing to go wherever they will get the best price, and more than two-thirds of grocery shoppers said prices and discounts influenced their decision of where to make their most recent purchase.

Looking toward late summer and early fall, Myres said she expects the summer brick-and-mortar boom to normalize a little, as consumers return to their busy lives and seek out the convenience of eCommerce.

“As we head back to school and the time crunch of activities and everyone getting back into the groove, I would assume that we’ll see a spike in folks wanting more convenience and wanting more time savings, and so they’ll lean a little bit more heavy on using those digital avenues,” she said.

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