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    Niche Markets Spur Store Development: FMI

    WASHINGTON - New store construction in 2003, while slow overall, tended to be driven by target market-focused stores, according to a new study from the Food Marketing Institute, ¿Facts About Store Development 2004.¿

    WASHINGTON - New store construction in 2003, while slow overall, tended to be driven by target market-focused stores, according to a new study from the Food Marketing Institute, “Facts About Store Development 2004.”

    Overall, 12.6 percent of supermarket companies responding to the survey operated at least one target market-focused store. Of these, 44.4 percent offered gourmet formats and one-third each had Hispanic-oriented or natural/organic formats.

    Looking ahead, 36.4 percent of the stores these companies intend to open this year will be Hispanic formats, 45.5 will be natural/organic outlets, and 18.2 percent will be gourmet concepts.

    Spurred by this growth in target market segments, the average size of a supermarket in the U.S. went down to 34,000 square feet in 2003, taking the size of new stores below 40,000 square feet for the first time in a decade.

    New store construction decreased for the fourth straight year, accounting for 3.1 percent of all stores. Store remodeling was the activity of choice of most food retailers, with 4.9 percent of those polled remodeling at least some stores. The percentage of store closings stayed fairly stable at 2.7 percent, vs. 2.5 percent last year.

    Among the most popular features in new stores were deli departments, fresh seafood, floral/plant shops, prepared foods for takeout, ethnic foods, pharmacies, and in-store bakeries. The fastest-growing features were dollar-item aisles/departments and self-checkout lanes.

    Low-carb sections were included in 12.2 percent of all new stores -- the first time that this feature was measured.

    Wine sales areas, where allowed by law, also increased, with 1,000 square feet of a new store now dedicated to such sales, up from 420 square feet in 2002.

    Report information was obtained through mail-in questionnaires sent to FMI member companies in the United States. Seventy-one food retail companies responded, representing 12,212 stores. Roughly half (49.3 percent) of the respondents were independents.

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