Consumers’ demands for a cheaper shopping basket will override all other considerations as the current economic gloom continues.

David Glennon of retail analyst AC Neilsen told delegates at the Federation Of Wholesale Distributors’ annual conference that value retailing is now a way of life in the UK, and that small stores should be prepared to think differently. “Managing customers’ price perception is becoming increasingly important,” he said.

“Convenient location is still important but shoppers increasingly demand value for money,” he added. “Over 42% now regularly visit discounters, and lower pricing is gaining popularity over multibuy promotions.

“The shopping basket mix is changing, with private label is seen as ‘good value for money’ and meal ingredients rising in popularity as people eat out less and cook at home.

“Shoppers are choosing smaller basket sizes versus large trolley shops, and visiting stores more frequently as a way of managing budgets.”

Glennon suggested stores “shout about value” by creating a shelf or section of products priced at £1. This would generate incremental sales and strengthen  perception of value, he said, and suggested wholesalers and suppliers could work together to co-ordinate this for independents.

Neilsen data revealed by Glennon showed across-the-board declines in unit sales of convenience product categories, with only meat, fish and poultry and fresh produce bucking the trend.

He warned retailers not to be mislead by value sales rises in categories such as bakery, rice, pasta and dairy, which were driven by increased commodity costs.