Welcome to the February Grocery Trader. It’s freezing out there, but at least the UK economic outlook is brighter now. The IMF has upped its growth forecast, citing easier credit conditions and increased confidence. Here’s to the feel better factor shining through at the point of sale.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FEBRUARY ISSUE OF THE GROCERY TRADER

FrontIn our special features we have our first quarter Back of Store feature of 2014. We also look at Barbecue Time and Spring Cleaning. In a few weeks it’ll be sunny and warm, and hardy consumers will be sparking up the Barbie. They could do as early as late March, which saw a heat wave in 2012. The ‘Brucie’s Bonus’ for barbecuing this year is of course the World Cup. In 2010 the South Africa World Cup had a massive impact on barbecuing, with millions of people moving the TV into the garden and eating and drinking outdoors as they watched.  When the 2014 World Cup in Brazil kicks off on Thursday 12 June, stand by for an action replay!

The clocks go forward on Sunday March 30th, start of the traditional ‘Spring Clean’ period. There’s a distinct psychological aspect to household cleaning – when consumers feel upbeat, they’re more likely to seek out the right products to make their homes sparkle. So will the brighter national mood translate into an urge to spruce up our homes?

As reported on our front page, the silver surfers may be getting smarter at shopping on line, but now there’s evidence that over 40’s are less likely to spot bargains in supermarkets. While younger shoppers are quick to spot a good deal, the over-40s either struggle to calculate value for money or mistakenly rely on their own instincts, and often miss out on bargains or spend more than they need. That’s the conclusion from startling new brain scanner research by SBXL (Shopping Behaviour Xplained), one of Europe’s leading shopping behaviour specialists.

The difference in the way people shop according to age is just one of the results from a groundbreaking project being carried out jointly by UK-based SBXL and the School of Psychology at Bangor University. Selected shoppers are asked to simulate an £80 grocery shop in a supermarket, while going through a £3 million 20-ton medical fMRI scanner. SBXL’s findings confirm that for many people a supermarket shop is stressful and the brain behaves illogically faced with the sort of information overload shoppers encounter in a supermarket. Now SBXL have a reliable and scientific way of validating this research and understanding what is happening in the brain during the weekly shop.

As SBXL’s MD Philip Adcock says, around a quarter of all products on supermarket shelves are on some kind of offer or promotion, so many millions of pounds are at stake in lost margins if the supermarkets are getting it wrong. SBXL estimate that supermarkets and brands consistently give away 23 per cent more margin than they need.

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