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Discounters, store labels gain as consumers cut back  

Columbus, Ohio – “Discount and value retailers are benefiting from an influx of cost-conscious shoppers at the expense of conventional and high-end retailers,” according to a recent survey from TNS Retail Forward.

The researcher added that “store brands are benefiting at the expense of national brands.”

The new survey, American ShopperScape 2008, analyzed the shopping behavior of thousands of consumers – most of whom are aiming to offset higher gasoline and food prices, TNS said.

More than half of the respondents said they are “Going to stores that are closer to home or work” and also “Going to stores where I can do one-stop shopping.”

A full three-quarters of respondents said they are “Planning errands to minimize the distance traveled.”

Calling the survey findings “seismic shifts,” TNS vp Mandy Putnam said of the impact on mass merchants: “As a result of shopper migration, retailers’ customer profiles are shifting. Some are shifting not just because they are gaining customers who are trading down, but because they are losing customers who are turning to even more value-oriented channels.”

Specifically, the findings showed that “power centers” are gaining at the expense of regional malls and strip centers; online shopping continues to gain; and 26% of shoppers are turning away from “upscale and specialty retailers” they usually visit, going instead to “discounters and value formats.”

Spending on home improvement and home furnishings has weakened since last year, the survey said, while other categories “remained stable.”

The survey showed that the “thrill of the hunt” is becoming a more prevalent motivator of shopping trips, suggesting that the off-price channel is gaining in share.

Putnam concluded, “Whether new patrons permanently adopt these retailers depends on how well retailers address the needs of their new customers and how well new patrons acclimate to shopping in less familiar territory.”

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