The Co-operative Group has marked 50 years of modern shopping with a report into the changing habits of shoppers.
After the Second World War, the Co-op was the first UK retailer to introduce the American idea of serving yourself – and, by 1965, most of its stores had been converted from the old counter service.
To celebrate the anniversary, Co-operative Food’s Back to the Future report looks at the change in convenience retailing, and compares food shopping in the sixties with the habits of shoppers today.
“In half a century much has changed, while in many other ways little has altered,” said Steve Murrells, retail chief executive at the Co-operative Group, in his introduction to the report. “Many of the staples found in people’s shopping baskets in the 1960s remain – yet there are new additions which reflect changing lifestyles and modern shopping habits.”
Compared with 1965, shopping baskets in 2015 contain more convenience food and far fewer basic ingredients. Fifty years ago the average basket would have contained butter, meat, milk, bread, sugar, flour, eggs as well as lard, suet and yeast, says the report. In 2015, consumers are more likely to have confectionary, yogurts and desserts, crisps and snacks, in-store bakery products, bananas and energy drinks, showing a stark difference in diet and tastes.
The report shows what a typical store from the sixties self-service revolution looked like (above) – and, while there is now a much greater emphasis on fresh produce, many aspects of this innovative layout are still familiar.
“In the mid-sixties there were individual butchers and greengrocers, many operated by the Co-op, and so Co-op grocery stores concentrated on selling food in packets and tins,” said Mr Murrells.
“Another big difference was there was very little alcohol sold because drink consumed at home was generally purchased at stand-alone off licences.”
Shoppers are now moving back to the way consumers used to shop for food before the advent of large supermarkets, fridges and microwaves, the report says. They are shopping little and often – with almost half of the nation (48%) saying they no longer do a big weekly shop, and 35% tend towards a ‘grazing’ shopping mentality, shopping for food several times a week.
The reasons for this include efforts to reduce food waste (one in four) and 27% saying it no longer fits in with a busy lifestyle.
Three per cent of the nation now shops for food every day; similarly, in 1965, one in three women shopped every day for groceries with another one in three shopping at least three times a week, says the report.
But in one aspect, modern shopping is different from 1965, it adds – 39% of shoppers today are men, up from 24% in 1965.