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Experts Predict Continued Downward Trend in Grocery Store Traffic in 2024

COMMERCEExperts Predict Continued Downward Trend in Grocery Store Traffic in 2024

The year 2023 brought a small decrease in footfall and a fewer number of shoppers in grocery and industrial shops. In general, all formats lost customers, but the greatest outflow was noted in hypermarkets. The traffic only slightly increased in discount stores. The most visits were generated by convenience stores and, once again, discount stores. Moreover, the report indicates that last year, the average consumer went shopping every 2-3 days and spent an average of 15 minutes there. Such conclusions are provided by an analysis, which was conducted based on monitoring the behavior of more than 331,000 consumers shopping in the four largest commercial formats on the market.

Decrease in footfall and number of customers

In 2023, compared to the previous year, there was a minimal decrease in the footfall in grocery and industrial stores with a simultaneous decrease in the number of customers (respectively -1.7% and -1% year on year for the entire market). This is revealed by a study conducted by the technology company and the UCE RESEARCH platform on the group of over 331,000 consumers. Their behaviors in discount stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets, and convenience store chains were analyzed (cumulatively in 37,000 stores). Mateusz Nowak from believes that the causes of this situation can be seen in the growing popularity of catering services and ordering food for delivery. This results in some people going to the stores much less frequently or even resigning from them completely. The expert also forecasts that the slight downward trend will continue this year due to these circumstances.

“In the early quarters, we had to deal with an increase in foot traffic, but from the summer holidays there were declines both in terms of the number of visits and customers. It can be suspected that in 2024, at least in the beginning, there will be a noticeable propensity to decline, but a lot depends on the economic situation, inflation level, and popularity of takeout food services and catering,” says Dr. Nikodem Sarna from

Discount stores show a slight increase

Exact data indicate that a slight decrease affected almost all types of stores considered in the study. Traffic decreased in supermarkets by 1.4% year on year, in convenience stores by 3.2% year on year, and in hypermarkets, it went down by as much as 8.1% year on year. On a slight plus, discount stores ended up at 1.2%. Dr. Jolanta Tkaczyk from the Leon Kozminski Academy believes that differences in the offers, locations, marketing strategies, and changing preferences of consumers could have influenced the results of individual formats.

“Hypermarkets could have recorded the greatest decrease in traffic due to their size and location which often require longer visits. They lose most of the visitors due to the development of online shopping. Discount stores have gained popularity thanks to their focus on low prices and convenience, which meets the current consumer trends. Customers are consequently trying to save money and cost becomes their primary purchase driver,” adds Dr. Tkaczyk.

Hypermarkets lost most

Dr. Maria Andrzej Faliński, vice-president of the Association of Economic Dialogue Forum, former long-time general director of the Polish Organization for Trade and Distribution, talks about a “crisis” shopping style. Consumers quickly buy only what they have to after reducing their goods baskets. This need is met by discount stores, which offer an essential assortment, promotions and good quality own brands.

“Medium and small stores, if they offered good prices, or at least comparable prices to hypermarkets, won. In times of inflation, hypermarkets are perceived as “money suckers” because they encourage the buying of products that the consumer had not originally planned to purchase. Besides, visiting them takes up a lot of time, and since they are usually located further away from housing estates, you have to pay for fuel to get there,” explains Dr. Faliński.

The discussed analysis also shows that all formats lost unique customers. The greatest decrease was noted in hypermarkets – at the level of 3.4%. A smaller one was observed in supermarkets – down by 1.7% year on year. On the other hand, convenience store chains and discount stores recorded drops of 1.2% year on year. Dr. Nikodem Sarna correlates these results with the fact that people most often do their shopping in their immediate vicinity, where convenience stores and discount stores dominate in most cases.

“Similar to the decrease in footfall, the largest outflow of customers was recorded in hypermarkets. Interestingly in the case of the reach, slight declines were also calculated in discount stores, although there was an increase in traffic. This may be the result of the reduced number of people shopping within one household and with the increasingly popular catering services and delivery of shopping,” suspects Dr. Nikodem Sarna.

Quarter of an hour for shopping every 2-3 days

The time of single purchases in 2022 and 2023 remained virtually the same (a decrease by 0.6% year on year for the entire market). On the other hand, the average total time spent in stores dropped by 1.4% over the year – also for the entire market. Taking into account the division into formats, it is possible to notice small decreases (both in the context of shopping duration and average time spent in stores). The only exception is discount stores, but it is only an increase at the level of 0.3% year on year. According to Dr. Jolanta Tkaczyk, keeping a similar shopping duration from year to year suggests that despite changes in overall foot traffic, consumer behavior remained relatively stable. In the expert’s opinion, it can be concluded that customers visit the stores less frequently but spend a similar amount of time there. This could be the result of planning purchases or preferences related to visiting specific stores.

“The average visit duration in 2023 only increased in discount stores and by just 0.3%. Decreases were recorded in other formats. The biggest ones were recorded in hypermarkets and supermarkets – respectively by 1.9% and 1.4% year on year. These differences may be due to changes in people’s habits and partially switching to discount stores at the expense of supermarkets and hypermarkets, as well as persisting higher inflation, which led consumers to mainly buy essential products,” claims Dr. Sarna from

Not many changes in 2024

As Mateusz Nowak predicts, after a rather weak fourth quarter of 2023, it can be expected that grocery stores will continue to struggle with slight declines in reach or traffic. However, the situation should stabilize in the long term. In the expert’s opinion, the results for 2024 will be similar to those for 2023.

“The market share of hypermarkets will continue to drop. The crucial factors for the popularity of the format will be issues such as price and flexibility, as highly diversified local markets are becoming difficult to manage for large surface area networks. The situation is different for smaller shops, especially franchise ones, associated with local industry and logistics. This creates very interesting synergies at the level of production, warehouse, shop, and non-store sales, most often remote,” summarizes Dr. Maria Andrzej Faliński.

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