Post-GFC, Australian shopper behaviour has changed with an increasing interest in food shopping and frugality, according to a survey.

Directional Insights
Consumer Shopping Benchmarks 2011 found that women, the primary shoppers in Australia, are shopping as frequently as they did in 2009. However they now more often identify themselves as mission shoppers – shopping for a reason – rather than leisure shoppers, who spend more time and money during a centre visit.

Helen Bakewell, Directional Insights managing director, said shoppers are spending the same or more on food for three reasons – increased food prices especially fruit and vegetables, a rise in ‘ethical’ eating including organic produce which carries a price premium, and the ‘Masterchef factor’.

“Masterchef and other reality cooking shows have increased spending on foods that many people would have only bought infrequently two years ago when we released our last Benchmarks,” she said.

““Grocery chains invest in understanding their customers and have responded decisively to the new marketplace. Better shop layouts and other innovations have made it easier for customers to buy higher margin products after being enticed by lower priced staples, like milk.”

And while food may be the new fashion, and fashion is the new frugal spend, non-food retailers who understand the post-GFC new retail paradigm are seeing customers and their dollars flowing into their stores.

“Zara and other affordable fashion stores are meeting customers’ need for quality fashion at the right price while offering an exciting shopping environment. More than ever, retailers need to know their customers intimately, and shopping centres need to understand why customers visit their centres,” Bakewell said.

The Consumer Shopping Benchmarks 2011 also revealed people behave differently in different centre types. In local “neighbourhood” centres people visit mainly for food and since 2009 spend per visit has increased.

According to Bakewell and the findings in the Consumer Shopping Benchmarks 2011, customers will continue to visit and to spend at centres which meet their food, fashion and convenience needs the best.

“Although regional centres have felt the impact of Australian’s frugal fever the keenest, all retailers and centre managers have to face a different environment post-GFC, marked by cautious shoppers,” she said.

“But it’s still a dynamic and profitable time for those retailers and shopping centres that offer real convenience or an exciting retail experience. Retailers most in touch with the new customer sentiment will not just survive, they can thrive.”