Americans made fewer trips to traditional grocery stores in 2004, seeking savings, variety or convenience in other outlets.

An ACNielsen study showed that the average shopper made 69 visits to grocery stores last year, down from 72 in 2003, and 92 in 1995. Consumers are increasingly visiting stores where they can save more money or accomplish more in one trip, according to the report, with major long-term growth in dollar stores and supercentres.

Traditional operations continue to lose household penetration and shopping frequency, which remained flat in warehouse clubs, drug and convenience stores.

Hopeful signs for grocery formats include experimentation with new formats, innovative merchandising, and marketing efforts toward differentiation, which may help stem the loss of shoppers to other formats.

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