SymphonyIRI: Gas prices limit trips to stores

CHICAGO — Looming gas prices are taking a toll on consumers' shopping habits, according to a special report by SymphonyIRI Group.

According to the latest report, "The Ripple Effect: High Gas Prices Bring Pain Beyond the Pump," SymphonyIRI found that shopping trips are being consolidated, with 4-out-of-10 shoppers being forced to reduce or completely eliminate trips to their preferred retailers due to rising gas prices, SymphonyIRI said. Additionally, consumers in the first half of 2011 opted to shop at mass/supercenter and club formats, versus traditional grocery stores, compared with the year-ago period. Many consumers also are turning to closer-to-home retail outlets to offset the costs of gas.

"Even though gas prices have eased in the last month, they are still high and continue to put a strain on the family budget," SymphonyIRI SVP marketing John McIndoe said. "The bottom line is that shoppers still face a lot of uncertainty with the ups and downs of the economy and will continue to evaluate their purchases very carefully for the foreseeable future."