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In yet another indicator that consumers’ food preferences, both at and away from home, continue to shift, findings published in the new What’s in Store 2013 guidebook from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association show that retailers are responding to changing shopper habits in different but distinct ways.
Reflecting seesaw patterns among shoppers, grocers are expanding and shrinking their stores – sometimes simultaneously – to meet consumer demand for convenience and price. On one hand, more retailers are offering more online merchandise (online grocery sales jumped 11.6 percent in 2011 over the previous year) and reducing their total square footage. On another hand, many retailers are expanding areas of their brick-and-mortar stores, adding more fresh food items, meal solutions or private label products.
Spurring these changes at the retail level are changes within consumer bases. As the latest edition of What’s in Store reveals, ever-increasing competition for the consumer food dollar has stemmed from the deep recession that started in 2008 and its lingering after-effects. The book includes research showing that traditional supermarkets must grapple with competition from club stores, superstores, c-stores and drug stores/pharmacy stores; as shoppers pick up grocery items from non-traditional supermarkets during the course of their day, whether for the sake of convenience or value.
What is a traditional grocery store to do? What’s in Store 2013 quotes Tim O’Connor, vice president for RetailNet Group: “There’s always going to be a physical component for fresh food because that’s what people perceive as fresh and immediate.” Another expert, Bill Bishop of Brick Meets Click, says that at some point, those in the industry must realize that this way of shopping is the new normal, and that shoppers will continue to buy in a multichannel landscape.