Consumer Skills
28th July 1999


Consumers welcome the arrival of the large supermarket chains into Northern Ireland, according to a new survey by the General Consumer Council.

Two-thirds (67%) of local consumers said that they were better off since the arrival of the large supermarket chains to Northern Ireland. This is one of the main findings included in “What’s In Store- Consumer views on Grocery Shopping” released today. Northern Ireland products While consumers want to see local products on the shelves, the report shows that they may not necessarily buy them. Nine out of ten (92%) consumers said that supermarkets should give the choice of buying Northern Ireland products. Sixty-six per cent (66%) also said that the large supermarkets have a responsibility to support local food industries. Less than half of those surveyed (48%) said that it was easy to locate Northern Ireland products. However, when asked what factors were most important when shopping, quality and price ranked highest. Country of origin was the least important of the nine factors listed. Commenting on the results Joan Whiteside, Chairman of the Consumer Council said: “Overall this report tells the large supermarkets that it is ‘So far, So good’. However, one area for improvement is the labelling of local produce. Consumers want to see local products on the shelves. However, their decision on buying is more likely to be what is best for their pockets. The Northern Ireland food industries must therefore compete in terms of quality and price” Changes in Shopping Habits The report highlights how shopping habits have changed over the past ten years. Consumers have moved towards the one shop stop facility at the expense of local stores such as greengrocers and butcher shops. In 1988 48% of consumers bought their fruit and vegetables in local greengrocers stores. By 1998 this had fallen to just 20% while the number using supermarkets increased from 30% to 56%. The trend is similar for meat. In 1988 68% of consumers bought their meat in local butchers. In 1998 this had fallen to 35%. Consumers buying meat in large supermarkets, on the other hand, increased from 26% in 1988 to 48% in 1998. Notes to Editors 1. The survey results were based on a survey of 1000 consumers, representative of the Northern Ireland population, carried out in September 1998. 2. For further information, or to arrange interviews, contact Alan Walker on 01232 672488 (Office Hours), 3. Copies of the report are available free of charge from the General Consumer Council and will also be available, in pdf format, shortly on the Council’s web site. (