Date of Award

12-2005

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Resource Economics and Policy

Advisor

Gregory K. White

Second Committee Member

Mario Teisl

Third Committee Member

Hsiang-Tai Cheng

Abstract

The U.S. food retailing industry has experienced a decrease in the number of independent grocery stores, as they are replaced by big supermarket chains. The loss of food retailers impacts rural communities through reduced accessibility to food products. By improving certain marketing and management practices the rural retailers may be able to survive changes in the food retailing industry. The present study investigates the grocery shopping habits in eight rural communities in Maine. It also attempts to uncover the factors and attitudes that influence customers store choice decisions and their attitudes towards their local retailers. Data for this study was collected in 2002 by a household survey of eight rural towns in Maine. A total of 5,292 households were selected to participate in the survey. The respondents were asked questions related to their shopping trips, opinions, store characteristics and store products and services used in last month. Factor analysis on the data collected was performed. Seven factors were extracted and subjected to varimax rotation and differences between these groups were then determined by a Chi-square test. Further a consumer behavior model was built to estimate shopping fi-equency of consumers to a grocery store The grocery shopping habits, frequency of activities a consumer does when choosing a grocery store, meal solutions used in their households and factor scores resulting from store characteristics were used as explanatory variables to estimate number of shopping trips by a consumer to a grocery store. The results from the estimation will help uncover important parameters in choosing a grocery store. Determining consumer behavior in relation to their attitudes may assist rural food retailers in increasing market share of local residents' food purchases and help strengthen the rural economy both in Maine and nationwide.

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