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We examined differences in consumer-level characteristics and structural resources and capabilities of small and non-traditional food retailers (i.e. corner stores, gas-marts, pharmacies, dollar stores) by racial segregation of store neighbourhood and corporate status (corporate/franchise- v. independently owned).
Observational store assessments and manager surveys were used to examine availability-, affordability- and marketing-related characteristics experienced by consumers as well as store resources (e.g. access to distributors) and perceived capabilities for healthful changes (e.g. reduce pricing on healthy foods). Cross-sectional regression analyses of store and manager data based on neighbourhood segregation and store corporate status were conducted.
Small and non-traditional food stores in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, USA.
One hundred and thirty-nine stores; seventy-eight managers.
Several consumer- and structural-level differences occurred by corporate status, independent of residential segregation. Compared with independently owned stores, corporate/franchise-owned stores were more likely to: not offer fresh produce; when offered, receive produce via direct delivery and charge higher prices; promote unhealthier consumer purchases; and have managers that perceived greater difficulty in making healthful changes (P≤0·05). Only two significant differences were identified by residential racial segregation. Stores in predominantly people of colour communities (<30 % non-Hispanic White) had less availability of fresh fruit and less promotion of unhealthy impulse buys relative to stores in predominantly White communities (P≤0·05).
Corporate status appears to be a relevant determinant of the consumer-level food environment of small and non-traditional stores. Policies and interventions aimed at making these settings healthier may need to consider multiple social determinants to enable successful implementation.
Little is known about customer purchases of foods and beverages from small and non-traditional food retailers (i.e. corner stores, gas-marts, dollar stores and pharmacies). The present study aimed to: (i) describe customer characteristics, shopping frequency and reasons for shopping at small and non-traditional food retailers; and (ii) describe food/beverage purchases and their nutritional quality, including differences across store type.
Data were collected through customer intercept interviews. Nutritional quality of food/beverage purchases was analysed; a Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) score for purchases was created by aggregating participant purchases at each store.
Small and non-traditional food stores that were not WIC-authorized in Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, USA.
Customers (n 661) from 105 food retailers.
Among participants, 29 % shopped at the store at least once daily; an additional 44 % shopped there at least once weekly. Most participants (74 %) cited convenient location as the primary draw to the store. Customers purchased a median of 2262 kJ (540 kcal), which varied by store type (P=0·04). The amount of added sugar far surpassed national dietary recommendations. At dollar stores, participants purchased a median of 5302 kJ (1266 kcal) for a median value of $US 2·89. Sugar-sweetened beverages were the most common purchase. The mean HEI-2010 score across all stores was 36·4.
Small and non-traditional food stores contribute to the urban food environment. Given the poor nutritional quality of purchases, findings support the need for interventions that address customer decision making in these stores.
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