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Shopping trips drop.

CHICAGO -- Consumers are making one fewer shopping trip per month than they did five years ago, according to a new report from Information Resources Inc. (IRI), which says that fact has profound implications for manufacturers and retailers alike. "For retailers, protecting the trips they have and the growing basket size per trip are even more critical," states IRI's "Time & Trends" report, called "Shopping Trip Missions: A New Avenue to Growth."

According to IRI, the typical consumer made an average of 14.5 shopping trips each month to all outlets in 2001. This year that same consumer has made an average of 13.6 trips to all outlets per month. Blurring trade class boundaries means that retailers of all types are increasingly fighting over that shrinking pool of trips.

For manufacturers, fewer shopping trips means fewer opportunities to secure purchases of their products.

"Within this environment protecting and growing the share of trips for retailers and manufacturers requires a new approach to marketing and merchandising, based on an understanding of the types of trips that stores and brands have successfully captured and those that offer growth potential," the IRI report contends. "Targeted trip mission strategies that are integrated within overall marketing and merchandising plans will become integral to growth."

According to an IRI analysis of purchase behavior during more than 6 million shopping trips over a 52-week period, consumer "trip missions" fall into four basic categories:

* Quick trips. Accounting for about 54% of all store visits and about 21% of total consumer packaged good sales, these trips are driven by a "need it now" mentality, and shoppers typically buy one to five items and spend an average of $9.50.

* Special-purpose trips. These nonroutine trips are triggered by the need to pick up items for a specific event, and also generate small baskets, in the $20 to $50 range. They account for about 17% of trips and 18% of sales.

* Fill-in trips. Accounting for 16% of trips and 21% of sales, these trips involve the purchase of five to 15 items, and generate sales of $30 to $80.

* Pantry-stocking trips. Inspired by the need to prepare for the coming week, these trips account for just 14% of store visits but 40% of sales. Consumers typically buy more than 15 items during these visits and spend more than $50.

"Marketing and merchandising initiatives are typically built around the larger, more predictable trips," the IRI report maintains. "While these initiatives remain imperative, many retailers and manufacturers are realizing that other trip types may offer untapped opportunity."

Quick trips are often "milk runs," where consumers are picking up dairy, produce or bakery items, or "thirst quencher" trips, inspired by a desire for a snack or beverage. Retailers hoping to boost their share of these trips might court milk-run shoppers by providing a quick and easy path connecting dairy, produce and the bakery in their stores. Quick-trip solution centers at the front of the store are also seen as a good move.

No single retail trade class dominates as a destination for quick trips, according to IRI, although grocery stores account for about 42% of visits. Drug stores do well in this category also, accounting for 12% of trips, followed by discount stores (11%), super-centers (8%), dollar stores (7%) and convenience stores (5%).
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Author:Meyer, Scot
Date:Nov 27, 2006
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