Many of us remember the days when supermarket aisles boasted their highest quality product ranges and the thought of spending an extra few pennies did not faze the average shopper however, those days are long gone. Now it is an achievement if you make it around the entire store without head butting a brightly coloured giant sign labelled ‘Discount’.  A recent article in the Daily Mail titled ‘Rise of the professional shoppers: The penny-saving consumers making supermarkets nervous’ highlighted the transformation in consumer behaviour. With UK food prices increasing 3 times faster than the rest of Europe it is no wonder many of us have resorted to bargain hunting. Yes supermarket giants may entice and persuade customers with promotional offers but we as customers now expect them!

The Daily Mail revealed that a new ‘breed’ of shopper is born. Gone are the days of leaving coupons in the bottom of bags, the new consumer scours the internet looking for news of supermarket offers and price comparisons, makes decreasing their weekly shopping bill their ultimate aim in life and then uses social networking sites to communicate their supermarket success. The release of the Which 2011 Food Price Report demonstrated that we have not only changed the way we shop, we have altered the way we think. With 36% of consumers buying less food in general over the last 12 months, 41% are now buying economy brands and 39% have started to shop at discounted supermarkets.

According to Which over half of us (52%) are now comparing prices when shopping in store and 62% are checking special offers. This super saver mindset has meant that employee’s now see benefits like prepaid cards as extremely valuable.
Prepaid cards enable consumers to budget, manage and receive cash back on their everyday spending which fits the new ‘breed’ of consumers and their regimented approach to shopping. Removing the risk of exceeding overdrafts and paying interest, employees are able to top up their prepaid card each month and spend their allocated amount just like any other debit card. In certain retailers employees are also able to earn a percentage of cash back next time they top up.

Euro Monitor International revealed that prepaid cards are expected to be the strongest growth category with a30% jump in volume over the next year due to increasing consumer demand for modernised payment methods.  The penny seems to have finally dropped with TV shows like ‘SuperScrimpers’ supporting the need for consumers to search and save on their everyday purchases. A prepaid card is one way in which employers can give their staff that extra helping hand and are seen as the most practical and valuable employee benefits of the moment. Don’t send your employee’s on a supermarket sweep this year, invest in an effective prepaid card programme and take the weight of your staff’s trolleys!

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