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    NGA Releases Highlights of 2006 Independent Grocers Survey

    ARLINGTON, Va. -- The National Grocers Association (NGA) here and FMS Solutions yesterday unveiled the major highlights of the 2006 Independent Grocers Survey -- a financial and operational review of the independent retail grocery industry.

    ARLINGTON, Va. -- The National Grocers Association (NGA) here and FMS Solutions yesterday unveiled the major highlights of the 2006 Independent Grocers Survey -- a financial and operational review of the independent retail grocery industry.

    This year's survey saw a dramatic improvement in a number of areas over the previous year, according to NGA. However, there are areas of concerns, such as rising energy and health care costs.

    Regardless of increased expenses, independent grocers reported impressive sales gains, even when adjusted for inflation.

    Additional highlights include:

    -- Net profits improved to 2.23 percent, vs. 1.92 percent in the previous year for all respondents.

    -- Overall store gross margins increased from 23.85 percent in 2005 to 25.33 percent in 2006. Although the results were mixed in terms of performance, single-store operators saw a slight decline, while multistore operators experienced significant gains.

    -- The average store inventory levels for all respondents was $543,641. Average inventory per square foot was $18.17 (total square footage), up from the average of 16.70 per square foot from last year's conventional operators.

    "It will be important to watch how the retail grocery and food industry will use its successes of last year to launch itself forward in today's environment," said NGA's director of communications, Christine Cunnick. "With the recent shakeup in the industry, new business opportunities may become available and competitors may grow stronger and fiercer as a result. In addition, even with the increased number of supercenters and specialty stores, the survey shows the independent community-focused retailer is alive and healthy."

    The survey looks at various topics, including survey population, economic and competitive landscape, political concerns, health insurance, store labor, sales, gross margins, expenses, inventory, and net profit. The results are based on a survey that was sent to the independent retailer community. The makeup of respondents included multistore operators (59.8 percent) and single-store operators (40.2 percent).

    The survey is available to NGA members at a cost of $75, and to nonmembers for $300. For information or questions visit www.nationalgrocers.org.

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