It should be no surprise that consumers are heading to places like drug stores and dollar stores for more food purchases: Supermarkets keep finding ways to tick their shoppers off. The list of shopper peeves include high prices, hard-to-reach shelves and misplaced signs, reports a new survey from Supermarket Guru. And the biggest peeve of all? Some 62% of shoppers say that when stores have items on sale, they run out.
"It's amazing to me that in today's world -- with just-in-time inventory and all the technology they have, that stores let this happen," Phil Lempert, CEO of the Supermarket Guru, tells Marketing Daily. "There is just no excuse for that."
In fact, these inconveniences are driving shoppers away from supermarkets, and explain the jump in sales of food items at drug chains like Walgreens, CVS and Duane Reade. Some 35% of people complain that items on top shelves are too high to reach, the best deals are always hidden on the lowest shelf, and 28% hate the way promotional displays clog up aisle traffic. "With aging Baby Boomers and arthritis, putting products on shelves that are too high is just annoying," he says. "At stores like Walgreens, you don't have these very tall gondolas and it's a much more comfortable shopping experience."
Other vexations? Stores that issue coupons at checkout with impossibly short dates (32%) or requiring purchase of a companion item (46%); 44% say there aren't enough cashiers.
While many of the gripes focus on service, products aren't doing all that well, either: About 38% of customers think perishables (dairy, produce) and service departments (meat, seafood, deli, bakery) charge too much, while 34% say freshness is sometimes an issue.
Shoppers say they put up with annoyances because the stores there are most convenient to home or work (59% of respondents) or overall, they are satisfying enough (48%). People say their primary supermarket annoys them in these ways usually (31%), sometimes (23%) or half the time (21%). Readers were so emotive that they spoke up about an annoyance that wasn't on the questionnaire -- the placement of value-priced items on the bottom shelf.
"This is a wake-up call for supermarkets," he says. "Shoppers want a lot more than low prices."