When it comes to grocery retail, do people want small or large store formats?

 When it comes to grocery retail, do people want small or large store formats?
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Most people around the world shop for groceries, though consumer preferences for grocery retail differ by market. That’s also the case when it comes to the preferred size of grocery stores.

A new survey from YouGov spanning 17 markets reveals that people prefer smaller grocery store formats to larger ones in most markets. This sentiment is strongest in markets such as India, Mexico, France, Poland, and Denmark, where more than two in five people agree they prefer smaller grocery stores.

Larger format stores tend to be more popular in places such as the UK, Sweden, Australia, China, and Singapore – where people are more likely to disagree that they prefer smaller grocery stores to larger ones. In Germany and Italy, people seem split on the topic and perceptions of smaller grocers versus giant retailers are closely divided.

Does age play into perceptions of grocery store sizes?

In the US, chain grocers have been investing in their own small store formats the past few years. With advantages such as convenience, location, and price flexibility, it is clear big retailers see potential growth in small format stores such as the likes of Amazon Go, Kroger Express, and Whole Foods Market Daily Shop.

Roughly a third of all Americans agree they prefer small format stores and this preference consistently holds across all age groups. Small format grocers may be the future of grocery retail – as these stores continue cropping up in urban neighborhoods – even more so as their popularity among young American adults appears already established.

Perceptions of grocery retail look drastically different in the UK. Across nearly every age group, Brits were more likely to disagree than agree that they prefer small store formats. The one exception stands among Brits aged 55 and over and even then, older Brits were divided on their opinions of small versus large format grocery stores.

Traditional, large format grocers such as Tesco, Sainsbury, and Morrison’s still dominate the grocery retail landscape in the UK and notably, big supermarkets seem to resonate more with young adults. Just 17% of Brits aged 18-24 agree they prefer small format grocers, compared with 46% who disagreed and seem to favor large supermarkets instead.

Consumer tastes will guide the future of grocery retail and there’s room for both large and small store formats in many places around the world. It’s important to consider the size of a store’s footprint especially as consumers shift to frequent, short trips in many markets around the world. Measuring how people prefer to shop can help provide insight into why certain markets prefer one store footprint over another and identify where and how retailers should expand. It’s also worth noting that this data may well be influenced by the situation that many consumers find themselves in today – their movement being severely restricted by coronavirus-related restrictions.

Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of adults in 17 markets. All interviews were conducted online and results have been weighted to be nationally representative of each market. 

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