General Merchandise/HBC

Consumers Like to Shop Close to Home: Study

Confirms continuing importance of local, neighborhood retailers

SALT LAKE CITY -- Proximity is an important influence in consumer decisions on everyday purchases, according to the results of a national survey by engagement and rewards company Access Development. The survey confirms the continuing importance of local neighborhood retailers, it said.

In the survey, 93.2% of respondents said they typically travel less than 20 minutes to buy groceries, clothing, gasoline and other routine transactions, while 87% said they won’t travel beyond 15 minutes for such purchases. For purchases that consumers make at least once per week, the distance they are willing to travel shrinks even further to 10 minutes.

The Impact of Retail Proximity on Consumer Purchases survey was compiled from more than 2,000 responses from a national pool of consumers.

The survey findings confirm the retail truism that more than 80% of discretionary spending occurs within 20 miles of home, the company said. However, the survey findings show that even 20 miles may be too far to travel for most people, Access Development said.

The survey shows that the more frequent the purchase, the less distance consumers are willing to travel for it. Respondents said they typically travel 6.01 minutes from home for gasoline, 8.03 for groceries and 8.5 for fast food. Conversely, they will travel 19.87 minutes away for clothing and shoes, 17.04 for movies and 14.17 for automotive service.

“The conventional wisdom is that most spending occurs close to home, but there haven’t been many studies completed around just how far people are willing to travel to meet everyday needs,” said Andrew Graft, Access Development’s vice president of corporate marketing. “What this survey shows is that, for most purchases, the local, in-store experience is still very important to consumers. These local merchants have a narrow but profitable sphere they can focus their efforts on, while online and national brands have a major engagement opportunity in helping consumers save on these frequent transactions.”

Among other key findings:

  • Ninety-two percent of urban residents travel less than 15 minutes for routine purchases.
  • Conversely, 70.3% of rural residents travel more than 20 minutes for their regular purchases.
  • When asked to exclude proximity as a factor, the top influences on consumer purchasing decisions were product quality and price, each cited by 32% of respondents.
  • Just 6% named brand reputation as a primary influence, while 7% said they were influenced by customer service.

As financial stress becomes an ongoing issues for the typical consumer, engagement tactics such as discount programs and in-store mobile coupons will become more influential with the American population, said Access Development, Salt Lake City, which offers a platform for “show your phone” mobile coupons.

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