Shoppers for non-prescription medicines and medical products are still more than twice as likely to be buying from a pharmacy than in a high street supermarket, according to a year-on-year comparison of data from Bridgethorne, the category and shopper management specialist.

Shopping for non-prescription medicines in town centre shopping centres peaked during the period between August 2015 and April 2016 when, on average 17% of respondents said that that this is where they had purchased, compared with an average of just 8% at other points during the year. This is still lower, though, than high street supermarkets, where, on average, 21% of respondents had bought these items and still well behind pharmacies, where an average 46% of respondents had shopped. The situation changes for health and beauty products, which are as likely to be bought in a pharmacy (26%) as they are in a High Street supermarket (25%) or a town centre shopping centre (28%).

“This data reflects very different shopper missions between non-prescription medication and normal health and beauty products,” explains John Nevens, Joint Managing Director, Bridgethorne.

“Shoppers will likely opt for a pharmacy for non-prescription drugs if they are looking for specialist advice, a recommendation or want to talk about a condition that they may not feel comfortable addressing in a supermarket environment. It may be that, having received that recommendation, on their follow-up trips to buy the medication they may be more comfortable purchasing in a supermarket.”

This, adds Nevens, presents a challenge to the multiples on how they can create a consultation environment in larger supermarkets.

“There’s no doubt that the multiples have been getting better at this but they are still not seen as the place to go because the in-store experience doesn’t lend itself to that kind of situation. More still needs to be done to replicate the pharmacy experience better in a supermarket environment and make it more conducive to the needs of the shopper.” 

Overall, as shoppers, we are more likely to be buying health and beauty products with, once again, women (38%) more regular shoppers than men (25%). Again it is those in the younger age group who are the most likely shoppers with 43% of the 18-34s buying compared with 35% of the 35-54 age group and just 24% of the over 55s.

Non-prescription medicines was the non-food category shopped for least regularly over the past year, with just 17% of respondents saying they had purchased during the previous week. This compared with 18% for baby products, 24% for household cleaning and laundry products and 28% for health and beauty products.