Soaring energy prices lead consumers to supercenters

CHICAGO Consumers are balancing the need to save money on consumer packaged goods with the need to conserve gas, so they are turning to supercenters to make fewer and larger shopping trips, according to new research from Information Resources Inc. that the company released Thursday.

"Times & Trends: Channel Migration 2008,"reveals that supercenters were the only store type to achieve sales gains across six key grocery retail department areas during the last year, while traditional grocery retailers showed declines in four of six departments. Furthermore, supercenters exhibited gains with all income levels and with three high-potential market segments, including baby boomers, Hispanics and households with kids.

"Leaders throughout the retail spectrum know there is not one single answer to this retail challenge, and that securing the best information is the first step to developing an optimal new strategy," stated IRI president, innovation and consulting, Thom Blischok.

Select findings for the IRI study include

* Facing unprecedented financial burdens as gas, energy and CPG costs skyrocket simultaneously, consumers have made dramatic changes in where and how they shop;

* consumers are balancing the need to save money on CPG products with the need to conserve gas, resulting in fewer, larger trips;

*cross-channel competition has intensified for self-care products, which are experiencing rapid demand increasesNdrug stores and supercenters have secured the largest gains, but channel shifts vary by category.

"With the economy not expected to rebound until at least the second quarter of 2009, there is ample time for consumers to become comfortable with their new shopping patterns, suggesting that these changes and the competitive ramifications could have some staying power," Blischok added.

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