Belgians start to shop more often for groceries

For several years Belgian households have been shopping less often for groceries. An average family visited a store 218 times per year in 1999, but this number has been in constant decline since, resulting in 145 shopping trips per year in MAT09 2019. Multiple reasons can be found for this: convenience (one stop shopping), increasing lack of time, environmental concerns, savings, a smaller number of specialty stores (baker/butcher etc). Yet this number is now increasing again, so why is this?

This changing shopping behavior has affected both retailers and manufacturers. In a market where volume growth is sparse, retailers must fight harder to win the battle for the shopping trip to their store. In store manufacturers have less opportunities to seduce the shopper, especially negatively impacting impulse products.

However, since 2018 that decline started to slow down and since May 2019 shopping frequency is even going up again.  Why? Households still go less often to specialty stores but have started to go more often to supermarkets. That is, they go more often to supermarkets in Belgium, not to supermarkets abroad.  This uplift takes place across all major food segments (fresh, frozen, groceries) but not in non-food (home care and personal care).

The key question for 2020 will be whether purchase frequency will further continue to grow.