Working out the best deal: The role of consumer numerical skills within a grocery shop

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Purpose - Price promotions are a common tool used by retailers to increase sales. This study aims to investigate the effect of consumer's numerical skills and other demographic characteristics on their ability to determine the best deal when conducting a grocery shop (referred to as deal competency). 

Design/methodology/approach - A consumer survey (n = 308) was conducted online, collecting information about respondent's demographics and grocery shopping behaviours, numerical literacy using the subjective numeracy scale (SNS), and deal competency (a novel measure). Multiple regression analysis and Pearson's correlations were conducted using SPSSv26. 

Findings - Overall, the mean SNS score for the total sample was 31.47 (SD = 8.27), and the mean sample deal competency score was 13.5 (SD = 2.3). Spearman's correlation analysis identified a moderate significant positive relationship between numerical skills and deal competency, r s(303) = 0.360, p < 0.001. Regression analysis found significant positive relationships between numerical skills and being male, and with mathematical achievement; and between deal competency and age, mathematical achievement and educational achievement. Regarding buying behaviour, correlation analyses identified only one significant relationship between numerical skills (SNS score) and deal competency and variables relating to buying behaviour, namely a negative relationship between deal competency and amount spent on promotional food items in top up grocery shops. 

Originality/value - This study contributes to the gap in literature regarding consumer ability to work out the best deal on promotions, presents a novel scale for describing consumer deal competency, and considers the comparative usefulness of using objective and subjective scales in similar studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-253
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Food Journal
Issue number13
Early online date12 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 12 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, Emma Beacom, Lynsey Elizabeth Hollywood, Victoria Simms and Alison Wynne.


  • promotions
  • retail
  • consumer
  • numerical skills
  • subjective numeracy scale
  • deal competency
  • Retail
  • Consumer
  • Promotions
  • Numerical skills
  • Deal competency
  • Subjective numeracy scale


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