Survey Result: Expired Products Hurt Sales, Not Just Shrink

by Andrew Hoeft | Mar 25, 2020 1:23:23 PM

This post is excerpted from our latest eBook, The Impact of Expired Products on Supermarket Sales & Shopping Behavior: A 2018 Survey Report.

We recently completed a market study surveying grocery shoppers on actions they take upon finding expired food items at a grocery store. This post will examine a particular finding from the survey. In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting additional insights from the survey. If you want to read the survey in its entirety, download it here.

The goal of this study was simple: get a better understanding of consumer sentiments regarding expired products and how those sentiments impact their decisions to shop at a particular supermarket as well as how likely it is they would share bad experiences with others.

Survey participants whose responses were included in the results self-identified as grocery shopping decision-makers in their household. All 505 of these respondents were located in the United States and varied in age from 18 to over 60, with most (32.08%) falling between 30-44. Gender breakdown skewed female with about 64% of respondents identifying as female and about 35% identifying as male.

The results of the study show that grocery decision makers are actively checking expiration dates in the store. 78.8% of respondents either check every item they select, or regularly check items in key categories such as meat and dairy products. The results also suggest that sales, not just shrink, are hurt by the impact expired products have on shoppers, with 17.5% of respondents saying they have switched their primary grocery store after discovering expired products and nearly 30% saying they would be extremely likely to stop shopping at a store if they found expired products there repeatedly. Lastly, shoppers are very likely to share experiences with others, especially when expired products become a recurring problem.


Expired products hurt sales, not just shrink

The study results suggest that the impact of expired food reaches beyond what’s captured as shrink to impact core sales numbers. 17.5% of shoppers reported switching their primary grocery store because of an expired product at some point. Again, the question asked not whether they would, but whether they actually had.

The main driver of this outcome appears to be the discovery of expired food multiple times. While shoppers seem to be generally forgiving when they find expired food for the first time (only about 5% say they are extremely likely to stop shopping at that store), they are not as forgiving if the problem becomes a trend. Almost 30% say they are extremely likely to stop shopping at a store after purchasing expired food on multiple trips.

How likely (1-10) you would be to do the following if you found that you had purchased multiple expired products at the same store over several grocery shopping trips?

Likeliness of action upon finding multiple expired products
The impact of this on sales becomes clear when the typical amount shoppers spend on groceries and average profit margins made on sales are added into the equation. A 2017 survey conducted by GOBankingRates reported that a typical shopper spends an average $3,672 on groceries each year ($3,876 for women and $3,480 for men).

Taken together with the 29% average profit margin made on grocery sales alone, that’s about $1,065 in lost profits per customer each year.

We’ll be posting additional insights from this survey in future blog posts. To read the report in its entirety, download a copy by clicking below.

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