Resident Survey Summary
This survey aimed to answer two main questions about the residents in the neighborhoods adjacent to the former Kroger stores:
How did the closures impact shopping ability and access to food?
What are the shopping preferences of residents?
The results intend to provide insights for both food access initiatives and for the startup, expansion or attraction of future grocery stores.
It is important to note that this survey is based on a convenience sampling process. Although promotion of the survey was focused in the neighborhoods served by the Kroger stores that closed in 2018, a random sample was not established. It is important to note that participants self selected and do not necessarily represent the grocery shopping needs and habits of the overall population. Learn more about the survey process in the methods section of this report.
The residence location of survey participants was established by asking their zip code. The Southside is generally defined by the 61605 zip code, the East Bluff is generally defined by the 61603 zip code, and 61604 covers additional adjacent neighborhoods that may have been impacted.
918 people responded to the survey, with 245 (27%) respondents living in 61603, 130 (14%) in 61604, and 245 (27%) in 61605. 620 (68%) survey respondents lived in these zip codes assumed to have been impacted greatest by the closures. The remainder either lived in other zip codes or did not provide an answer.
Respondents represented an ethnically diverse population, with significant participation from the Black or African American residents from Southside and East Bluff neighborhoods.
Key descriptors for those who shopped at Harmon Highway and Wisconsin avenue.
63% of respondents were between 25-64 years of age, 13% of respondents were over 64 years of age
Roughly half of respondents who shopped at either location are living with someone under the age of 18.
588 (64%) of all survey respondents regularly shopped at one of the closed Kroger stores.
Of those, 285 indicated that they shopped at Wisconsin Avenue Kroger location with:
175 respondents (61%) residing in 61603;
25 respondents (8%) residing in 61604,
21 respondents (8%) residing in 61605
Of the 284 who indicated that they shopped at Harmon Highway Kroger location
177 respondents (62%) reside in 61605
6 respondents (2%) reside in 61606
7 respondents (2%) reside in 61603
30 respondents (11%) reside in 61604
Impact of Closures
The closures had an impact on access; Most were adjusting, but some continued to struggle.
Survey respondents from both the East Bluff and the Southside neighborhoods indicated that the closing of Kroger store impacted their ability to get the groceries they need, but the majority said they were adjusting.
For those who had indicated one of the closed Kroger locations as their primary grocery location for buying groceries, 42% of respondents who shopped at the Harmon Highway location and 36% who shopped at the Wisconsin Avenue location indicated they were still struggling to adjust six months following the Kroger closures.
While portions of the Southside and East Bluff neighborhoods meet USDA criteria for food deserts, for the most part, respondents indicated they have readily found a nearby grocery alternative. Some choosing another Kroger store, while for others Aldi’s and Hy-Vee have become their new grocer.
Driving the dominant mode of transportation, before and after closures.
While the majority of individuals drive or ride with another family member or friend, access by bus follows national patterns with around 12% of the respondents indicating travel by bus for groceries. Walking to the grocery store was reported as a mode of transportation for approximately 5% of respondents.
Since the closings, respondents reported increased travel by vehicle to purchase groceries and a reduction in walking. Although respondents have chosen alternative places to shop, there are now additional travel expenses and the mode of transportation can also affect their purchases. Riding the bus or with others may limit the number of bags of groceries purchased or their abilities to buy in bulk.
Less than half reported sufficient access to healthy foods
Ease of access to healthy food remains the most critical concern, with research clearly demonstrating the food environment influences consumer food selection and health outcomes (Beaulac et al., 2009, Gustafson et al., 2013).
Survey respondents echoed these concerns with only 48% of all respondents indicating their household has access to healthy food. That number dipped to 40% for respondents who shopped at Harmon Highway and 52% for respondents who shopped at the Wisconsin Avenue Kroger stores.
Only 48% of all respondents indicated someone in their household can afford to buy all the food needed for the family (42% of respondents who shopped Harmon Highway and 50% of respondents who shopped Wisconsin Avenue Kroger Stores previously). When asking about whether an individual in the household can afford fresh food products, for those who shopped at either Wisconsin or Harmon Highway Kroger locations, approximately 46% of respondents indicated that they could always afford fresh food products.
Food pantries are a likely option for many
Being able to afford all the food needed for the family remains a critical concern. Approximately 49% of respondents indicated that they were either likely or very likely to get their groceries from a food pantry if available in their neighborhood. For those who shopped at the Harmon Highway Kroger location, 52% of respondents indicated the same concern, and similar for those who shopped the Wisconsin Avenue location. Additionally, 45% of respondents indicated they are likely or very likely to get food from a food pantry.
Approximately 42% of respondents reported getting their groceries at a food pantry sometimes or often. 47% of those who previously shopped at Harmon Highway Kroger and 40% who shopped at Wisconsin Avenue Kroger indicated they sometimes or often received groceries from a food pantry with the most frequent response being “sometimes.”
Residents wanted a new grocery store, preferably a conventional store similar to Kroger
Despite having found an alternative to the previous Kroger stores, there was still a keen interest in a neighborhood grocery store with 92% of the survey respondents who primarily shopped at the closed Kroger locations indicated a need for a new grocery store in their area and 81% of respondents indicating a willingness to shop at a new store if located within a 15-minute walk of their home.
The preferred type of grocery for all respondents was a conventional grocery store with approximately 75% of respondents indicating this preference, followed by a large retail stores (such as Walmart and Target) at 47% and discount grocers (such as Aldi) preferred by 45% of respondents.
Most important products for a store to carry: fresh produce, meat, dairy and eggs
Respondents placed the highest values on the following food items as most important factors in where they get groceries: offers fresh produce (88%), and fresh meats and dairy (89%). Respondents also indicated the importance of having a full-service grocery with a wide variety of options, and not just a convenient store. Overwhelmingly respondents indicated the need for a nearby store that offers fresh meats(75% ), dairy (89%), and fresh produce (88%). Convenience stores were near the bottom of the list as a place to shop for groceries with 12% of respondents indicating they often shopped there.