JACKSONVILLE, FLA: With the US enjoying low gas prices, many Americans are choosing to spend the money they save on filling up their vehicles on groceries instead according to new research.

The latest edition of The Why? Behind the Buy report produced by sales marketing agency Acosta, based on research using a nationally representative random sample of US shoppers via its proprietary ShopperF1rst online survey, highlighted the impact of lower fuel prices on shopping habits.

The effect was most pronounced among millennials, fully 72% of whom intended to redirect any savings on fuel into grocery spending.

Colin Stewart, svp at Acosta, said that consumers had reported saving an average of $67 per month, which was being spent instead on food and groceries, paying bills and going out more.

Brands and retailers could convert those extra dollars into incremental sales, he advised, with a better understanding of current shopper behaviours and purchase drivers.

"Grocery shopping has become a complex, consumer-centric matrix of options as Americans have more choices today than ever before," he added.

The research showed that the average shopper had visited about seven different store locations to buy groceries in the past six months. And while most were still focused on a regular supermarket (95%), "the generational tide is turning with Gen X and Millennial shoppers".

These groups are showing more in drug stores, convenience stores and natural/organic grocers than total US shoppers.

Many shopping decisions are not made until entering a store: around 70% of shoppers make category shopping decisions at home but 55% don't decide what brand to buy until they are in the store itself.

There is a certain degree of brand loyalty but most shoppers (65%) will simply switch if the specific item they want isn't available. One in five will wait until their next shopping trip and 11% will go to another store.

Data sourced from Business Wire; additional content by Warc staff