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Canadians continue to spend for good service


May 8, 2009
By Amanda Ryder

May 8, 2009 – Canadian spending at grocery and discount stores over the last year has increased despite the tough economic times the country is facing. While Canadians continue to shell out for the basics, survey results indicate that they are spending less at home improvement stores across the country.

Canadian spending at grocery and discount stores over the last year has increased despite the tough economic times the country is facing, according to a recent customer retail satisfaction survey conducted by Maritz Research Canada. While Canadians continue to shell out for the basics, survey results indicate that they are spending less at home improvement stores across the country.

Brand consideration determines what Canadians are spending at specific retailers in each sector surveyed. Among the major discount stores, Canadians are most likely to consider shopping at Wal-Mart and most likely to consider shopping at Canadian Tire when choosing a home improvement store.

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The March 2009 online survey polled 872 Canadians, equal parts men and women who had made a purchase at a discount, home improvement or grocery store in the last six months. Discount and home improvement store satisfaction data was collected nationally and grocery store customer experience and satisfaction results were collected in Ontario.

"Although Canadians still appear to have their wallets open, they are being very cautious and focusing on essential spending. We can see that the most successful retailers clearly benefit from understanding the factors that contribute to an overall positive shopping experience," said Robert Daniel, Managing Director Maritz Research Canada. "In this economy those retailers that make the grade are the ones who are profiting."

The survey delves in to what leads consumers to shop where they do and what contributes to an overall satisfying shopping experience. Surprisingly, the price of products ranked low on the list of important factors. Overall top drivers of a positive retail shopping experience within these sectors in Canada include the look and appearance of a store (grocery only), the merchandise offered and the quality of customer service received during the shopping experience.

"In the current economic climate, retailers have a unique opportunity to secure customer loyalty throughout the remainder of the recession. The shopping experience – from the overall look of the store to the manner of staff – all influence customer retention both now and when the recession is over," added Daniel.

Consumers' paradoxical relationship with Canadian Tire

In the home improvement sector, results were highly variable, with Home Hardware and Home Depot scoring high in drivers of overall experience, after-sales service and customer service. Local hardware stores were also rated highly in terms of helpfulness of staff and offering the best checkout experience for customers. Canadian Tire however, while rating lowest in customer satisfaction, likelihood to purchase and likelihood to recommend, still remains the most considered by consumers (76 per cent).

Speedy Checkouts and the "Green" Customer

Two other notable findings from the survey: 38 per cent of consumers said they were more or somewhat likely to shop at a retailer that offered reusable shopping bags and that they would be likely (58 per cent) to consider using self-checkout counters at retailers.

"We are seeing a trend towards the "greening" of the customer with more shoppers bringing their reusable bags with them to stores, in particular as some retailers are moving towards chargeable plastic bags," said Daniel. "As more retailers offer reusable bags and the self-checkout aisle option in their stores, consumers will come to expect those services to be standard for all retailers."


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