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Navigating the Discount Aisle

Food for Thought
An image of Sylvain Charlebois

In an era where the cost of living continues to rise, a recent survey by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in collaboration with Caddle, sheds light on a significant shift in grocery shopping habits. Consumers are navigating the grocery aisles with a strategy to save money while combatting food waste.

  • Adoption of food-saving apps: 34.6% use food-saving apps regularly, while 39.7% utilize them occasionally. 73.2% cited saving money as their primary motivation for using these apps, with 39.5% emphasizing reducing waste.
  • Discount expectations and preferences: 45.6% indicated a 50% discount was sufficient to purchase expiring food through apps; 22.1% stated a 30% discount would be enough; and 20.4% suggested discounts exceeding 50%.
  • Grocery shopping frequency and behaviour shifts: There has been a significant 32% increase in average visit frequency to grocery stores since 2018, with 45.5% of Canadians shopping weekly and 36.4% doing so more than once a week.
  • Impact of discounts on store choice: 62.2% opted to switch primary stores to secure better deals, and 29.8% exclusively selected grocery stores based on in-store discounts and promotions.
  • Consumer preferences for discounted products: During in-store grocery shopping, 59.2% of Canadians consistently seek discounted food products, with a notable preference for discounts on expiring or clearance items (40.9%) and loyalty programs (24.3%).

The rise of discount-driven shopping

The survey reveals a notable increase in the frequency of grocery store visits, alongside a clear trend of consumers switching primary stores in pursuit of better deals. A staggering majority seek out discounts, particularly on expiring or clearance items, signalling a robust appetite for savings.

Technology to the rescue

Food rescue apps like Flash Food, Food Hero, and Too Good To Go represent a significant leap toward sustainability. The preference for rescuing baked goods through apps, as opposed to in-store purchases, highlights a unique divergence in consumer behaviour when shopping digitally.

Implications for retailers

By prioritizing percentage discounts and loyalty rewards, enhancing the visibility of promotions, forging partnerships with food-saving apps, and focusing on the quality and freshness of discounted items, retailers can align more closely with consumer expectations.

The survey serves as a reminder: it’s not just about finding the best deal anymore; it’s about creating a sustainable shopping ecosystem. With strategic discounting and the integration of technology, we can make strides towards a future where saving and sustainability go hand in hand.

Sylvain Charlebois is a professor in food distribution and policy, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, and co-host of The Food Professor Podcast

[email protected]

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