Australians are increasingly using the supermarket like a pantry, developing an eye for a bargain and embracing ethnic foods, according to the major new Trolley Trends report by Woolworths.
By reviewing data compiled over the last 25 years, the food retailer has created a snapshot of how Australian consumer society has been changing in the wake of greater non-Anglo immigration, the rise of Generation X and later the Millennials, and a break away from the traditional family unit.
Demise of the weekly shop
Interestingly, the idea of a “weekly shop” has flown out of the window, with those who spend most of their food budget on a set day each week belonging to the Baby Boomer generation at the youngest - “Perhaps a nod to a time when it was common to plan the week’s menu in advance,” said the report.
Instead, younger Australians are less likely to be habitual shoppers and more likely to spread their budget over the week.
“On average, Australians spend just 34% of their weekly food budget on their primary shopping day. Some people visit their local supermarket every day of the week,” it said.
“Longer opening hours allow us to shop when it is convenient, with a noticeable shift in shopping activity now that supermarkets nationwide can open on Sundays (to varying degrees).
“In fact, Sunday is fast becoming the new Saturday for trips to the supermarket, with 18% of Australians making Sunday their primary shopping day – up three percentage points since last year.”
According to KPMG’s Bernard Salt, a leading social researcher: “Some people love supermarket shopping to such an extent that they’re in and out of the store several times every week. That’s not a supermarket; that’s an extension of the kitchen.”
Suckers for a bargain
The report also found that more than one-third of items in Woolworths’ supermarket trolleys are purchased on promotion, with the proportion of these items having increased by 10% per annum.
“Australians hunting for bargains are the big winners, with one in four customers purchasing nearly half of the food and drinks in their trolley on special,” the report revealed.
“Gen X, the most likely to have an established family and the highest spend on food and non-alcoholic beverages, are unsurprisingly among the most likely to purchase on promotion.
Price has become the single most important driver of store choice for supermarket shoppers, outranking shopping experience and inspiration.
“Smart shoppers are clearly waiting for supermarket specials and shopping for value for money as a key priority.”
More cosmopolitan tastes
Another key trend involves the demise of the potato in favour of Mediterranean and Asian ingredients, reflecting the trend towards greater prominence in non-Anglo immigration.
The potato was Australia’s side dish of choice in 1984, accounting for 72% of purchases. This has since dropped to 39%, with the popularity of pasta, noodles and rice increasing to now make up 61% of side dish purchases.
Moreover, in the ‘Eighties, red meat, potatoes, fruit juice, margarine and tea dominated. Today, however, the average trolley is filled with fish, chicken, rice, fresh fruit, butter and coffee. Or, if it is tea, it is now a choice of one of 61 varieties.
“The most noticeable change is that Australians are purchasing significantly less red meat than 25 years ago. As a share of meat wallet spend, it is down 16 percentage points from 1984 – a dip that is largely attributed to specific dietary choices and affordability,” the report continued.
“In contrast, chicken has become a staple for most Australians, rising by nine percentage points to constitute 21% of our food and non-alcoholic beverage share of wallet.”
Woolworths managing director Tjeerd Jegen summed it up: ''Our shelves today would confound the shopper of 25 years ago.
“There is no question that Australia has changed substantially in the past 25 years. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way we eat. We are what we eat, in health and in society.”