Impulse shopping a thing of the past?

RetailWire panelists commented recently on survey data where consumers reported “sticking to a list” in the grocery store and doing very little impulse buying. I joined most of my fellow panelists in being skeptical:

I’m not buying it (so to speak)…the methodology behind this survey appears to be based on self-reported instead of actual behavior. It would be interesting to observe actual in-store shopping behavior and (in particular) to compare the contents of the shopping cart to the list in the shopper’s hand when he/she reaches the checkout lanes. I do believe a high proportion of shoppers do their food shopping with a plan (or list) in mind, but I also believe that one or two unplanned items make it through the scanner. This reminds me of the surveys that panelists discussed before the holidays, which certainly pointed toward a grim season for retailers based on self-reported “intention to buy” versus actual behavior.

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