Survey:Price shapes local shopping habits

Many shop in Princeton, mainly out of convenience, but an almost equal number don’t shop here because of the prices.

That’s the word from 361 respondents to a survey from the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Economic Development Authority at the local business expo March 10.


Reasons to shop here or not

Forty-five percent of the respondents cited convenience as their reason for shopping in Princeton, while 40 percent listed both convenience and customer service. Eleven percent coupled convenience with other factors, three percent said they don’t shop here and one percent had miscellaneous answers.

Under reasons not to shop, the largest number (44 percent) listed price. Chamber coordinator Mary Chapman said it meant the prices here were too high for the items they chose to go out of town for. Twenty-six percent listed price and hours as their reasons for not shopping locally, while 15 listed poor selection as a reason. Eight percent said they don’t shop locally because of price and customer service, six percent listed price and quality as drawbacks.


Most like a sale

The question on what would cause you to stop and shop, brought out 68 percent saying it would be a sale sign. Eight percent said they would be drawn mostly to need, seven percent to a billboard, seven percent to food, seven percent to other, and three percent to an event.

Asked to rate what they felt was an important factor for shopping, 51 percent listed price, 13 percent stated convenience, 11 percent listed service, 11 percent said value, while nine percent chose quality, four percent said all those reasons, and one percent listed variety.

When it came to what people seem to be buying in Princeton, 74 percent said food/groceries, gas, medical items and hardware. Ten percent chose food/grocery, clothes/shoes and gifts; nine percent stated all items except food/grocery; four percent listed food/grocery, restaurants and hair care; and three percent said other.

Forty-three percent of the respondents said they shop all days of the week, while 32 percent stated weekdays and 25 percent said weekends.


When do they shop

Most (33 percent) of the respondents said they shop at all hours of the day, while 21 percent chose midday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.), 17 percent said late afternoon (2-6 p.m.), 16 percent noted the evening (6-10 p.m.), and seven percent said they shop before and after workday (6-8 a.m. and 4-10 p.m.). Six percent said they shop in the early morning (8-10 a.m.).

Two questions seemed to overlap. One asked how respondents find information about Princeton retailers and the other asked what advertising do respondents use to determine where to shop. Close to 50 percent listed flyers and coupons in the Town & Country Shopper in answering both questions. Twenty-seven to 34 percent look to flyers and coupons in both the Town & Country and the Union-Eagle newspaper for ads. Some respondents (9-14 percent) are also using Internet sites plus the shopper and Union-Eagle coupons and flyers, four percent are looking to flyers and coupons in the shopper and Minneapolis Star Tribune, and one percent look for flyers and coupons in both the shopper and the St. Cloud Times.

Four percent listed other for their advertising sources and five percent said they drive or walk around to find information on Princeton retailers. One percent said they use the Internet to look up that information.

When it comes to the number of retailers that the respondents visit when in Princeton, the majority (65 percent) said they visit 1-3, while 23 percent stop at 4-6. Seven percent say they go to 7-10, three percent said 11 or more and two percent said none.

Chapman said she can relate to shoppers saying that price is their biggest factor in where they shop. But she also said some of the respondents may not have checked out some of the local stores enough to see if they are getting a better deal out of town when considering both price and quality.

“People have to put things into perspective,” Chapman said.

The survey results were tabulated on the eve of what looks to be an imminent groundbreaking for construction of a Walmart store in the southwest quadrant of the interchange of Highways 169 and 95 in Princeton. Representatives of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. have informed the city that the store will have both merchandise and a full grocery line, and have a target opening by the first quarter of 2013.

Princeton now has only one store with a full line of groceries and that is Coborn’s. It appears that someone is also planning to open a bakery in the vacant bakery spot in the downtown.

The survey results, Chapman said, can be useful to realtors, bankers, city officials and city planners, “and anyone who cares about the city (of Princeton).”

While price is a big factor, it appears there are enough local residents with the money to spend for more than the basics, Chapman said. That means, she said, Princeton could have businesses with unique items and be creative in their store presentation. People with money are going to shop somewhere for these things, so why shouldn’t that be in Princeton, Chapman said.

On the question about products desired, many listing names of stores, here is the breakdown:

Twenty-seven percent said they want an additional grocery store and 21 percent seek an additional clothing store, some mentioning a Kohl’s.

Seventeen percent favored a Walmart, 13 percent called out for a bakery, five percent seek a craft store, and five percent want more restaurants, while four percent want a movie theater and five percent desire an office products store.

Three survey questions gave a partial profile of the respondents or those who live at the respondents’ residences. Forty-five percent of the respondents work in town and 32 percent work outside of it, with 17 percent of the respondents retired and six percent working both in and out of town.

The ages of the adults living in the respondents’ residences were: 33 percent in the age range 66 and older, 27 percent 51-65, 22 percent 41-50, 16 percent 26-40 and two percent 25 and under.

Twenty-one percent reported household income at their residence being $75,000 and over, 24 percent reported $50,000-$75,000, 33 percent listed $25,000-$50,000 and 22 percent wrote $25,000 and under.