US consumers are making fewer shopping trips as the economic downturn bites, according to research published today (17 March).

Consumers are looking for ways to combine errands and save money, Nielsen said.

In a bid to battle rising fuel prices and other economic pressures, Nielsen reported that consumers only made an average of 59 trips to grocery outlets in 2007, compared to 61 in 2006.

Mass merchandise shopping also saw a dip, with only 15 shopping trips last year, compared to 16 the year before.

The convenience sector remained flat, with an average of 14 trips per household, while supercentres saw 27 trips, compared to 26 the year before.

The research, however, showed that while shopping frequency across most retail channels is flat or on a decline, supercenters, which enable consumers to combine shopping trips with more items in one store, continue to show growth.

"Value and convenience are more important than ever as rising gas prices impact where and how often consumers shop," said Todd Hale, senior vice president of consumer & shopper insights, for Nielsen Consumer Panel Services.

"Long-term trends show us that all value retailers - supercenters, warehouse clubs and dollar stores - are gaining in their quest to grab shoppers."