MONTREAL -- When it comes to supermarket shopping attitudes there are few boundaries between Americans and Canadians. A new survey, "Trends in Canada: Survey on Consumer Shopping 1997," has found that the top five attributes of supermarkets are the same for both groups. They are, in descending order, clean, neat stores; quality produce; good variety; good/low prices; and courteous, friendly employees.
macy -- more than their neighbors to the north. However, the researchers point out that these practices are more commonplace in the United States than in Canada. Americans also place more importance on takeout foods than Canadians do, said the report.
Canadian shoppers prefer two store attributes more than their American counterparts -- accepting debit cards for purchase and fresh deli and bakery sections -- the survey said.
Overall, Canadians and Americans are satisfied with their primary supermarkets -- both groups rated their stores 8.1 out of 10 points, the report said. Only 18% of Canadians and 14% of Americans reported switching their primary grocery stores in 1997.
Monika Simon, a CCGD spokeswoman, said the only surprise was "how plain and simple consumer preferences are when it comes to a supermarket -- a clean, neat store."
As for the resemblance between Canadians and Americans, she said, "We're a lot more similar than we are different."
According to the study, Canadians spend an average of $74.16 ($103 Canadian) per week on groceries, up slightly from $72 reported in the last survey in 1995. After inflation, though, this change represents a slight decrease. American shoppers outspend their Canadian counterparts by about $9 a week, the study found.
According to the study, the price of an average grocery item in Canada is $1.41, down one cent since 1995. In the United States, the cost is $1.66, up one cent in the same period.
Canadians and Americans also employ the same money-saving techniques, the survey found. The most popular measure is to buy food only at the consumer's primary supermarket. Other strategies include looking in the newspaper for specials; stocking up on bargain items; buying store brands or lower-priced brands over national brands; and buying items on specials even when they hadn't planned to.
Canadian shoppers made about 2.1 trips per week to the supermarket in 1997, the survey said, up very slightly from the 2.0 trips recorded in each of the previous two surveys. In the United States, consumers shopped their supermarkets 2.2 times per week, the same frequency as recorded in 1995.
For the first time, this year's survey examined the sources of meals eaten inside and outside the home. Here the survey found a significant difference between Canadian and American shoppers: while nearly seven in 10 Canadians (68%) have home-cooked meals "pretty much every time," only 52% of American consumers eat home-cooked meals with that regularity.
However, supermarkets ranked third as a source of takeout meals in Canada (behind fast-food restaurants and restaurants). In the United States, supermarkets were the second most popular source of take-home meals, behind fast-food restaurants.
Shoppers in the United States are just as concerned as Canadians about the nutritional value of their diet, the survey found. Fifty-six percent of Canadians and 52% of American shoppers said they were "very concerned" about the nutritional content of what they eat. Canadians said fat content, cholesterol levels and sugar content were their top concerns, while Americans listed those three plus salt content as their primary nutritional concerns. The confidence of shoppers in the safety of food available has risen over the past two years, the survey said. Nearly nine out of 10 Canadians (88%) are confident about the safety of food in supermarkets. U.S. shoppers said their confidence in food safety has increased, although it remains at a slightly lower level than among Canadians. More than eight in 10 American shoppers (83%) expressed confidence in the safety of food at supermarkets.
The survey found that consumer activism related to grocery shopping appears to be waning, with low levels of consumer boycotts and declining resistance to questionable company products or policies.
How often do you... Canada U.S.
Total 18% 14%
Men 20% 13%
Women 17% 14%
Working Women 19% 13%
Nonworking Women 16% 17%