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The shift, while small, could give food and beverage brands pause as they think through their distribution strategies – lifting up channels they previously might have delayed entering or skipped entirely.

According to FMI’s Grocery Shopper Trends ​report released this month, supermarkets remain the channel most frequently shopped with more than 80% of consumers visiting them “regularly,” while 65% of consumers say the same about Mass, 44% about Club and 31% about Dollar.

Notably, however, is that Club is keeping pace with Supermarkets in terms of growth – both up 2 percentage points while Mass is up 1 percentage point compared to February 2021, according to FMI.

Drilling down to where consumers consider their “primary store,” the shift becomes more apparent with only 40% of shoppers attributing this designation to supermarkets in 2022 compared to 49% pre-pandemic in 2019. Over the same period, Mass gained dedicated shoppers with 30% calling it their primary store in 2022 compared to just 24% in 2019, according to FMI.

It also highlighted the growth in Club, noting that “while still a small player in primary store, the Club channel has steadily grown its share of primary designation over the past three years”​ from just 5% in 2019 to 9% in 2022, FMI notes.

“This growth in Club could be supported by its alignment with shopper cost-fighting strategies, as 21% of shoppers indicate they are buying in bulk to address inflation,”​ FMI explained, adding that low prices are a top five priority for consumers who choose Mass or Club, but not for those who choose a Supermarket.