Author Topic: Irrational shopping habits - even for food  (Read 6325 times)

Sjalabais

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Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« on: May 26, 2016, 01:54:33 AM »
I just read an article about two Norwegian food order websites delivering behavioural statistics. It's behind a paywall, but the main findings are enlightening (if not surprising per se) and go like this:

  • Web-shoppers fill their carts for on average 100+$, while the average per physical food shopping run in Norway is below 25$ (keep in mind that Norway tends to be roughly twice as expensive as the US, even though the strong dollar and low oil price have wiped out a lot of the differences)
  • Online orders occur once or twice a week, while the average person is in a food store more than five times (!) a week. Online shoppers may walk to a food store, too, so statistical glips are probable.
  • Fruits and vegetables are 16-20% of the basket online, less than 10% offline.
  • Fish is more popular online, too, 3-4% of the total against 1.2% offline.
  • Chocolate & sweets make up only 1.4% of the total bill online, against 2.5% offline.

Sweets producers are perfectly clear that the decision to buy their products tends to happen towards the end of shopping food in a store, a decision often made within 30s before queuing to pay - when blood sugars is low (>30% of their sweets sales volume are related to that). In general, 20-25% of the stuff we buy at food stores are said to be bought on impulse, and only 60% of Norwegians use a shopping list.

What am I taking away from this? The average, statistical person is not...smart.

  • Bad money management
  • Bad health management
  • Bad time management

What do the commercial internet food stores take away from it?

We need to screw up the impulsive end! You buy sausages - we offer discounted ketchup. You click on "go to cart", we'll give you an offer on chocolate you can't refuse.


It's a struggle.

shelivesthedream

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2016, 02:21:52 AM »
Going to a grocery store five times a week is not weird. I easily go five times a week, sometimes more. I live five minutes walk away from one and there's another on my way from the town centre (which I walk or cycle to). We live in a small flat and sometimes have problems buying stuff and not eating it, so now we buy perishables (fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese) almost daily so we make sure we eat what we have before we buy more. I usually spend under 10 a time, around half the time under 5.

I don't think it's bad time management to spend twenty minutes a day going to the shops, especially if I'm out anyway. What is weird is buying a month's worth of vegetables at a time - how do you stop them going off?

Sjalabais

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2016, 02:40:56 AM »
I buy groceries maybe once a week, mostly perishables, and have a massive grocery fit to fill up the basement once a month or so. That, of course, involves a car, but I live 7km from the closest food store anyway. Things are different if everything is in walking distance, and I also check for discounts in the "soon out of date corner" maybe one additional time per week. But I'd still think it takes away time to visit a store almost daily - and then there's the temptation...

MandalayVA

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2016, 03:26:26 AM »
Europeans in general tend to food shop almost on a daily basis; the American-style supermarket is a relatively recent phenomena over there.

pancakes

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2016, 03:41:11 AM »
When I worked at a supermarket we called the rows of confectionary at the checkouts the 'impulse bar' and they would require refilling more than any other shelf in the store except for milk and bread. I learned working at the supermarket that everything is always on sale and provided you are not 'brand loyal', there is no reason to impulse purchase anything because the price is good.

I go to the supermarket most days, I go past on my way home from work anyway. Sometimes I do a weekly shop but it is a 10-15 minute walk from the store and I have to carry everything back on foot. The one thing that I do impulse purchase is seasonal fruit when it is on sale. Blueberries for $2 a punnet I'll grab because I will never buy them at the usual $7 and I do like them.

I also walk through a department store almost every day as it is on my path from the train to home and I often have a bit of a browse, especially if it is cold and wet outside. When I tell people that I do this so often without buying anything they are shocked. Apparently most people can't enter a store and leave without buying something.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 03:47:03 AM by pancakes »

I'm a red panda

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2016, 07:01:27 AM »
My husband goes to the grocery store after work every day (he bikes).  It's when he buys the fruit we will eat the next day.  Greatly decreases food waste.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2016, 09:34:27 AM by iowajes »

zhelud

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2016, 08:13:28 AM »
Europeans in general tend to food shop almost on a daily basis; the American-style supermarket is a relatively recent phenomena over there.

Agree.  Plus a lot of Europeans live in places where you can walk to a grocery store.  I also shopped more often when I lived in Europe.  And when I lived at one point in the US across the street from a supermarket, I went 4-5 times per week, just to buy what I needed for the next day or two.

As for the online food purchases in the survey- I am not surprised that the total spent was larger. If you live close to a grocery store, why go online to buy one or two small items?  The online shoppers were probably buying more "bulk" type things.   

UnleashHell

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2016, 08:46:30 AM »
the last place I lived in England was very near a town center. The only time we used a car was at the weekend if we visited someone or went out for long hikes. Everything else was done on foot. Theres a limit to how much you can carry that way, plus you tend to buy and use stuff immediately. I far prefer it.

MgoSam

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2016, 08:52:25 AM »
The grocery store is on my way to the main highway, and there's a grocery store on my way to the office. There's also an Aldi only a few minutes further away from both locations. Long story short, I go to get groceries whenever I feel like it, on Sundays I tend to get a bit of stuff for the week and beyond, but I feel no shame if I forget something and have to make an extra trip.

meadow lark

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2016, 09:19:41 AM »
I don't understand what was so weird about the statistics.  I drive to Sprouts or Trader Joes once a week, then hit the fancy grocery 80 ft from my house every 1-2 days, primarily for produce, soy milk, or chocolate.  I go to a fancy import grocery every 3-6 months.  And Walmart or Costco every couple of months.  Without a car, I would internet shop a lot more and go to TJ's a lot less.

I don't buy everything next door because it is more pricey, but it is not so pricey that driving 5 miles for zucchini makes sense.  I think that is a fabulous bonus of living in my neighborhood.

MgoSam

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2016, 10:54:41 AM »
Why is this even on here? So what if people are spending a little more on groceries, it's likely far better for them to do so and use the stuff rather than going out to eat or getting takeout during the week because they are tired/stressed and didn't make things ahead of time. I think grocery delivery services can be a good thing for that as well, I haven't used one because I don't need to with having a grocery store and Aldi very close and a Costco about a 10 minute drive away.

Scandium

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2016, 11:00:31 AM »
I don't understand what was so weird about the statistics.  I drive to Sprouts or Trader Joes once a week, then hit the fancy grocery 80 ft from my house every 1-2 days, primarily for produce, soy milk, or chocolate.

Just curious; produce, soy milk and chocolate will all last 5-7 days (the latter two way longer, unless you eat all the chocolate..). Unless it's some weird produce that wilt after 3 days.. So why bother going to a store every 1-2 days? Stock up on go 1-2 per week. Seems like a waste. But then I hate grocery shopping more than average..

Sjalabais

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2016, 05:35:59 AM »
Why is this even on here? So what if people are spending a little more on groceries, it's likely far better for them to do so and use the stuff rather than going out to eat or getting takeout during the week because they are tired/stressed and didn't make things ahead of time. I think grocery delivery services can be a good thing for that as well, I haven't used one because I don't need to with having a grocery store and Aldi very close and a Costco about a 10 minute drive away.
Did you read the first post? It is on here because the average shopper does a lot of impulse shopping, which tends to be health-adverse (chocolate and  sweets) and costly. Both are classic MMM themes, neatly uncovered by two sets of statistics. In my eyes, it is also an irrational use of time to visit grocery stores with an "almost every day"-frequency, in addition to the impulse-temptation that comes with every visit. That regularity consumes time that could be allocated otherwise.

Feel free to disagree. I find reading the answers and different approaches to grocery shopping interesting.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 05:38:28 AM by Sjalabais »

Seppia

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2016, 10:50:37 AM »
It depends how far the stores are.
In Italy, if you live in any city, there's a great chance you will have a supermarket no farther than 5 minutes from your place.
It definitely makes sense to step by almost daily to basically reduce to zero your food waste

MgoSam

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2016, 11:17:28 AM »
Why is this even on here? So what if people are spending a little more on groceries, it's likely far better for them to do so and use the stuff rather than going out to eat or getting takeout during the week because they are tired/stressed and didn't make things ahead of time. I think grocery delivery services can be a good thing for that as well, I haven't used one because I don't need to with having a grocery store and Aldi very close and a Costco about a 10 minute drive away.
Did you read the first post? It is on here because the average shopper does a lot of impulse shopping, which tends to be health-adverse (chocolate and  sweets) and costly. Both are classic MMM themes, neatly uncovered by two sets of statistics. In my eyes, it is also an irrational use of time to visit grocery stores with an "almost every day"-frequency, in addition to the impulse-temptation that comes with every visit. That regularity consumes time that could be allocated otherwise.

Feel free to disagree. I find reading the answers and different approaches to grocery shopping interesting.

I apologize for my tone, I should have phrased it better. I don't think "everyday" is a problem, but I can certainly understand someone disagreeing with me.....afte rall my mom has lectured me on this. In my defense, I have Cub Foods (major grocer chain) right near my house and I can't really go anywhere without passing it, so there's no real incentive for me to get all my groceries at the same time. AT most I save the hassle of parking. Now that I have a roommate who requires half the fridge and freezer, by going and only buying what I need, I save a ton of space and don't waste as much. It seems every time I make a good list and buy a weeks worth, I tend to waste more of it. This way the only things that I need to bulk by from the grocery store is eggs and butter because they are things that I'll forget and remember when it's morning and I'm hungry. If I'm going to make a beef stew, I'll pick up the beef on my way home.

Sjalabais

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2016, 01:14:46 PM »
Absolutely understandable! :) We're a family of four with a big house in the forests, so that enables very different shopping patterns. Yet I was a once-a-week-shopper with occasional top-up-trips during my studies, too. My roommates used to make fun of me coming home with my bike loaded with 30kg of groceries...

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2016, 09:08:13 AM »
Why is this even on here? So what if people are spending a little more on groceries, it's likely far better for them to do so and use the stuff rather than going out to eat or getting takeout during the week because they are tired/stressed and didn't make things ahead of time. I think grocery delivery services can be a good thing for that as well, I haven't used one because I don't need to with having a grocery store and Aldi very close and a Costco about a 10 minute drive away.
Did you read the first post? It is on here because the average shopper does a lot of impulse shopping, which tends to be health-adverse (chocolate and  sweets) and costly. Both are classic MMM themes, neatly uncovered by two sets of statistics. In my eyes, it is also an irrational use of time to visit grocery stores with an "almost every day"-frequency, in addition to the impulse-temptation that comes with every visit. That regularity consumes time that could be allocated otherwise.

Feel free to disagree. I find reading the answers and different approaches to grocery shopping interesting.

1) I find it funny that with "King of Chocolatistan" under your post count you are discussing a 1.4 to 2.5 chocolates and sweets a health problem. Since we are talking Norway, 51% for adults in that country fall in the normal BMI range (18.5-24.99) versus the U.S. at 35.7 percent.

2) I do not find 100 or 125 (25*5) or 200 (100*2) to be a "costly" food budget if shopping for a family, depending on the quality of ingredients. (The average Norway household appears to be 2.29.) When trying to define costly it would be helpful if 100+ dollars was better defined, likewise less than 25 dollars should be better defined (not to mention 5 visits or more for shopping). If I spend 2.5 dollar at the bakery that is being lumped into the 25 dollar category.

3) As an American, I would think going to the store multiple time a week would be a waste of time. But, then again as an American the store is a grocery store that requires a sizable drive and all of the food there is already several days old and it sitting in my fridge will not make much of a difference. as a disclosure, we go more often than most, it depends on what day items are arriving at the COOP, what is harvested that day at our vegetable CSA, there is the meat CSA pickup, and the farmers' markets. Every European country I have visited (and Norway is NOT on that list and my experience my not be representative) is different, the grocery store has always been a walkable distance away, and there have been plenty of store with with cheeses, fresh baked bread, wines, meats, and that doesn't include the the street markets (which can have all of that again and more). With the opportunity to get fresh ingredients on a near daily basis I would go shopping every day. For example if I walk down the street, pop into the cheese shop for a small thing of cheese, pop into the wine shop for a bottle of wine, pop into the bakery for some break, pop into the meat shop for a cured sausage, and then pick up some olives and peppers at the market . . . I have spent under 25 dollars at 5 different physical stores in one walk.

Even when I rent an entire apartment in Europe the place is often tiny and storage is at a premium (well actually any space, try and reach down to wash your toes in the shower and you'll often be sitting in the sink). So an average family may not even have the space to reduce the number of shopping trip necessary.

TheGrimSqueaker

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2016, 10:03:15 AM »

Even when I rent an entire apartment in Europe the place is often tiny and storage is at a premium (well actually any space, try and reach down to wash your toes in the shower and you'll often be sitting in the sink). So an average family may not even have the space to reduce the number of shopping trip necessary.

How often a person shops for groceries is part of a bigger optimization exercise, though.

It's always possible to spend more (if you have it) on lodging so as to get more space to store more food, but there's a big expense associated with getting an extra few cubic meters, and it's often an ongoing expense because of property taxes and utilities to heat and cool the space. If food is readily and inexpensively available and it's within easy walking distance the extra spending doesn't make sense if the extra space is solely for food storage. Picking food up as part of the coming-home-from-work process or as a regular chore, if it adds just five to ten minutes to a daily routine, is still less expensive than putting those minutes into paid employment to afford more space and refrigeration so as to shop less frequently.

In places where it takes more effort to get food (distance, use of a vehicle in rural areas, etc.) the equation changes. Not only is more space available at a lower price, a shopping trip is more expensive. It no longer takes just five or ten minutes if it requires a special trip, and that's the point where more in-home food storage and less frequent food shopping makes sense.

Sjalabais

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #18 on: May 31, 2016, 01:33:24 AM »
@BudgetSlasher, thanks for your analysis!

1) You're right, I'm throwing stones in a glasshouse. My chocolate consumption is certainly way above average, but so is my metabolism. :) About one in five Norwegian adults suffers from obesity (up from 5% in the late 60's) and the same is true for 16-18% of 7-8 year olds. These are very concerning numbers, even though a majority of Norwegians remains within the "normal" BMI range. I find arguments of the "others are worse"-style enlightening, but they should not work to relax ambition. Probably the more so in a MMM context.

2) Unfortunately, this is the sloppy way the statistics were published. Yet I think these are the averages per shopping instance they found.

3) I have lived 8 years in the GDR, 14 in united Germany and 12 in Norway, in between I have been visiting most of Europe's countries. What is special about Norway is that the death of the specialty shop is just as prevalent here as everywhere else (the governmental alcohol monopoly remains in place though), yet we have the most shops per million inhabitants in the world, 464 as of 2011. England had 97 shops per million inhabitants at the time. Unfortunately, it's mostly an oligopoly market, with few actors and very little choice, most shops offering the same products as their neighbouring store (Sweden has on average twice the number of products per store). So all this underlines a culture of frequent and lazy shopping, in my eyes. I would love to seee more statistics of this kind, but it is hard to find...

The storage space equation is certainly valid, TGS! Yet I struggle to understand how we managed to shop as little as we did as students, ten years ago. We had a little apartment, but food and groceries didn't get in the way nonetheless. How much can a person eat in a week?

RetiredAt63

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Re: Irrational shopping habits - even for food
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2016, 05:55:04 AM »
I live in the country so I try to have some food on hand - but if I were extremely urban (and I did this when I was a carless student with a tiny grocery store nearby with a wonderful butcher department), I would regard grocery stores (including small specialty ones) the way MMM views Craigslist - a way to store my things (food) until I want them.  It is very freeing to browse food shop the way BudgetSlasher describes it - I feel like this food, so stop and buy the perfect quantity for today (or see the perfect sale on something I like) and then fill in the menu around it.  Of course I still do that, but these days the shopping is from my freezer.