If the UK supermarket operator, Safeway Plc, is finally bought out, consumers say they expect to see instant changes, including lower prices, more special offers, better customer service and food quality, and the introduction of more own-label foods, according to consumer research from IGD.
IGD's latest report, Consumer Watch - Consolidation in Food Retail, investigated consumers' awareness of - and reaction to - both market consolidation and the potential acquisition of Safeway.
The research found that few consumers have been monitoring the results of the Competition Commission's enquiry, and many actually think that Safeway has already been acquired by Morrisons. Consumers said that they are more interested in the benefits that the acquisition of Safeway could bring them, rather than who buys it.
Some things change
Overall, consumers want to be sure that competition and choice is maintained, with many wanting to see a retailer that currently has no presence in their area acquire their local Safeway store, believing that a wider range of shops provides different products and promotions, and brings additional variety to their diet.
Regardless of which company eventually acquires Safeway, consumers said they expect to see changes straight away. They expect much planning to have already taken place behind the scenes, and once any take-over is complete they want to be able to reap the benefits almost immediately. Many expect to see a drop in price (36%) and the introduction of own-brand foods (28%) before any name change or store refurbishment takes place.
Some things stay
But despite wanting instant change, Safeway shoppers also want to see certain elements of the Safeway offer retained. Specifically: special offers and the standard of product quality must be maintained; they believe that Caf Fresco surpasses the general standards of in-store cafs; they also like Shop and Go for its ability to track the total cost of shopping, not having to queue at the checkout, and not having to load and unload a shopping trolley.
"Although much of the industry talk this year has been on who will buy what, we have found that this is not the case for consumers. They are more interested in what benefits they will gain from any take over," explained IGD's chief executive, Joanne-Denney Finch.