In-Store Experience Trends to Focus On

Conducting this in-store shopping research again allows us to correlate 2022 and 2023 results, says Great Northern Instore's Dan Sabanosh.
great northern instore p2pi
Dan Sabanosh, Great Northern Instore

Great Northern Instore is again very pleased to partner with the Path to Purchase Institute on this “Examining the In-Store Shopping Experience” research to better understand shopping behaviors as the landscape continues to adjust post-pandemic and in times of economic uncertainty. This year’s survey allowed us to see how some trends are changing, since we were able to correlate answers with 2022 data.

The Overall Situation

Shoppers are feeling that the pandemic is behind us, with 78% responding that COVID-19 or other global illnesses will stay the same or get better. But, they are concerned about the economy. Just over half of respondents (51%) felt inflation would get worse in the next six months. Nearly half of respondents felt the overall U.S. economy and gas prices would get worse in the next six months. This dynamic backdrop of an evolving landscape in the U.S. sets the stage for the rest of the survey findings.

Trip Frequencies

We have been tracking a continued return to the store for key categories as the pandemic recedes. The results show those trends continuing. The grocery and mass retail channels are showing increased trip frequency. Dollar stores are also showing a slight increase. Some channels, like office supply, consumer electronics and sporting goods stores are experiencing a reduction in trip frequency.

Interestingly, it is younger shoppers (Gen Z and Millen-nials) who are showing an increase in trips. Furthermore, shoppers with higher income brackets ($100,000-plus per year) are showing greater increases in store trips.

Particular to stock-up trips, the time spent in-store continues to decrease. However, certain segments of respondents are spending more time in the store during the stock-up trip: Gen Z, Millennial, Black and high-income bracket shoppers. Overall, shoppers are buying more items on each stock-up trip.

The takeaway for brands is that it is critical to stand out in-store to drive incremental or impulse purchase.

In-Store Shopping

The main reasons people want to go to the store are consistent with 2022. The top reason people shop a physical store is to be able to see and interact with the products they are buying. Yes, shipping costs are also a concern. Shoppers also like the immediacy of the purchase and instant gratification that buying an item in-store provides.

What is very interesting is that younger shoppers (Gen Zers and Millennials) also feel the store offers a wider selection as well as inspiration and the discovery of new products. Merchandising must build on and take advantage of these reasons, ensuring strong communication and inspiration to younger shoppers.

The main pain point for shoppers is products being out of stock. In a similar vein, the No. 2 issue respondents reported is not being able to find what they are looking for. Physical retail needs to be easy to navigate and must have products available.


The physical store is critical for driving spontaneous purchases. Nearly half of respondents (45%) said they would make an impulse purchase most or every time at a physical store. Only 25% of respondents exhibit the same behavior online. Not surprisingly, sales are the No. 1 reason for the impulse buy. Interestingly, Gen Z and Millennial shoppers also highlight three other reasons: if the store was out of their planned item, if the product packaging was attractive and if the product was on display.

Making sure your product stands out is critical to being noticed and bought.

About the Author: Dan Sabanosh is director of shopper marketing for Great Northern Instore, a leading designer and manufacturer of merchandising solutions, where he helps clients be more insightful when developing their retail programs. Before joining Great Northern, Sabanosh worked for Colgate-Palmolive in both shopper marketing and brand management roles.

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