USA-flagThe USA is not the UK, but we keep on watching it because so many of its trends become our trends. Experts working with the Retail Wire website have tried to work out what long-term changes they see in shopper behaviour as a result of the recession.

Shoppers buying DVDs, toys and consumer electronics now choose discount stores ahead of ones with added-value services, they say. Shoppers choose coffee in McDonalds ahead of Starbucks. They choose discount department stores over luxury ones. However, when it comes to buying groceries, meals at restaurants, and clothes, then added value is still winning. The biggest area where added value wins is in beauty-care.

From this simple scale you may draw some interesting comparisons about where shoppers choose to go. For example, if you want a cup of coffee, you will buy as cheaply as possible. If you want to meet a friend, you may pay more for a nice table to sit at while you drink.

All the products that a local shop stocks move up and down on a scale, depending on how shoppers regard them, and it is difficult for a retailer to persuade a shopper to think differently about a product category. Instead, you need to understand how that category is being perceived and merchandise it accordingly.