by John McCurry, contributing writer
Charlie Spakes, executive director of the Arkansas Grocery and Retail Merchants Association, AGRMA, said the future success of independent grocers may depend largely on how quickly they can adapt to online ordering.
“They probably would have liked more time to get ready and get adapted before this whole [COVID-19] crisis started, but the way people shop will be permanently changed after this,” Spakes said.
“The customers are getting accustomed to click lists, and there will be no going back. The independents will have to make adjustments if they want to keep their market share.”
Overall, grocers have met the challenges of the pandemic, he said.
“They have done well. Most of them are probably up on sales. Whether that keeps up is another question. You will start to see a lot of sales drop off.
“There are a lot of unknowns, so no one can tell how it is going to pan out in six months. Most people do not see a return to normal for a while.”
Spakes believes labor will continue to be an issue for grocers as long as the pandemic continues.
“If the federal government aid comes to an end, there will be a lot more hunger for employment. I think it will make it easier for grocers to find employees. As long as the pandemic is going on, it will likely be difficult for them to find their workforce.”
The mission of AGRMA is “to promote and advance the general welfare of the grocery and retailing industries in Arkansas – including producers, distributors, and consumers of goods and services.” AGRMA functions in three general areas: education, government relations and member services.
To learn more about the association and its work in Arkansas, click here.