“Scripted behaviour” underpins many repetitive and routine tasks, such as grocery shopping, where it is observed that some shoppers take a list and others do not. The notion of “scripts” is used to examine the underlying reasons for the presence and absence of grocery shopping lists on major weekly or two‐weekly shopping trips to supermarkets. Little if any current information exists in marketing literature to fully explain the reasons for the presence or absence of lists, though it is known that such behaviour affects purchase activity in supermarkets. Set in New Zealand, this exploratory and preliminary study examines the shopping list being a moderator of purchase behaviour. It confirms previous research into the differences between list and non‐list grocery shoppers and suggests that far more planning occurs amongst all grocery shoppers than might be expected. The study reveals that some grocery shoppers, regardless of the presence or absence of a written shopping list, have a flexible approach to grocery shopping that is part of their overall shopping script. It is suggested that supermarket retailing planners could act on this intelligence in such a way as to support shoppers' pre‐planning, and thereby protect or increase their share of custom.
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