This ‘new age of supermarket retailing’ started in December 2013 when the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission accepted voluntary enforceable undertakings from Coles and Woolworths regarding the size of their shopper docket fuel discounts. This made competition for the grocery dollar a little more competitive.
Prior to December 2013, discounts had risen to the heady heights of up to 45¢ per litre for Coles and Woolworths loyalty card holders and independents were losing sales in the face of high fuel discounts off record high prices at the bowser.
In 2014, the reduction to a basic 4¢ discount on supermarket shopper dockets – even though the discount could be topped to 14¢ per litre by purchasing at a convenience shop – has seen Coles and Woolworths lose volume.
According to the latest Colmar Brunton Shopper Pulse, the use of petrol offers has changed little over the past three years, in spite of the massive change in volumes offered. The segment of shoppers that use them every time and see value in doing so have remained steady at 38, 35 and 36 per cent over the past three years that the Shopper Pulse survey has asked the question.
Fewer shoppers say they are not taking advantage of the petrol offers compared to a year ago. This was an eight points decline in usage. Panellists are generally not interested in 4¢ per litre off their petrol, but will combine the offer with shopping at the fuel site convenience store to increase the discount.
Both Coles and Woolworths, in their latest financial results briefing, cited the capping of fuel discount as a major contributor to declines in volumes pumped through their sites. This is exactly what the independents wanted.
However, the big winner for Coles and Woolies is the fact that close to 60 per cent of shoppers take advantage of their rewards cards every time they buy groceries and believe they adds value to their shopping.