No one has a “regular” supermarket

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What’s a reasonable number of distinct grocery stores to visit each month? (Don’t forget to factor in Costco.) According to an annual report from FMI, a food-retail industry group, the average American shops at 4.4 different grocery stores each month. And that’s higher for millennials and Gen Z shoppers, who visit 5 and 6.2 stores per month, respectively.

That might seem like a lot. But think about every grocery purchase you made in the past month: A few regular load-up-on-basics trips, maybe a Costco run, a trip to the upscale grocery store for specialty meat or seafood, a side trip to Trader Joe’s for Everything But The Bagel seasoning, etc. It adds up.

A tip of our cap to Food Navigator for dissecting the FMI report to examine the five primary types of shopping trips:

  • Primary bulk shopping: The regular visits when you’re buying most of your groceries for the week, month, etc.
  • Stock up shopping: Infrequent visits to discount or bulk warehouses to buy in large quantities.
  • Specialty item visits: When you shop at a particular store because you like a particular product they sell (Trader Joe’s store brand, for example, or a store’s $5 rotisserie chicken deal).
  • Quality item pick-up: Trips to grocery stores for ingredients beyond the basics, like specialty meat or seafood or bulk coffee.
  • “Need it now” trip: Oh crap, we’re out of milk.

If you visit a separate store for each of the above trips, that surpasses the 4.4 stores visited per month. Obviously, smaller communities might not have the variety of grocery options available in larger cities, which could throw off your numbers. Hard to visit more than four grocery stores per month if there are only three in your county.