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Els Gijsbrechts, Katia Campo and Patricia Nisol


Grocery-store switching has typically been viewed as evidence of cherry-picking behavior, with consumers switching stores to benefit from temporary promotional offers. However, research reveals that it may also result from a longer-term planning process based on stable store characteristics. Even in the absence of promotions, consumers have good reasons for shopping in multiple grocery stores. There is a link between consumer motives and the way shopping trips are organized. Some consumers visit different stores on separate shopping trips, while others visit multiple stores on combined trips depending on individual cost and benefit considerations. On the one hand, combined visits allow the consumer to save on transportation costs per trip and to purchase each product exclusively in the store where it is preferred. On the other hand, when the stores are visited on separate trips, the number of trips per store can differ and the trips to different stores can be spread over time. This allows the consumer to purchase high holding-cost categories on a more frequent basis, shifting some portion of these categories’ purchases to the less-preferred store. Depending on a store’s characteristics relative to local competitors, different competitive strategies are recommended for retailers.