chart, bar chart

Source: Nielsen Newswire (2011)

Americans play football with their hands and measure height in feet and inches. Now we can add to the list of ways in which we are outliers: Americans shop for groceries differently from the rest of the world.  

The above chart comes courtesy of the market research firm Nielsen. As we see, Americans’ (actually North Americans’) grocery buying habits stand out. While most of the world tends to make regular trips to shops and grocery stores to grab a few items, North Americans’ typical grocery trip ends with a car full of groceries to feed a family for a week. The report attributes this to high gas prices and the prevalence of “hypermarkets” like Walmart and Stop & Shop, which incentivize people to make a few strategic trips, as well as the availability of storage and refrigerator space in American households.

Europeans also stock up and make fewer trips, but less so than in North America. Europe has high gas prices and one stop shops like Carrefour, but it remains common to make multiple trips – one day to the grocery store, another day to the baker, and yet again to the butcher.

People in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are much more likely to shop daily for their immediate needs, rather than stockpiling groceries at home. (This won’t surprise those used to the street food scene of many countries, in Asia in particular.) Nielsen credits the difference in grocery buying behavior to “the structure of trade, household size and refrigeration availability around the world.”

Nielsen’s report is available here.

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