The co-owner of Milwaukee-based Sendik’s Food Market and NGA’s new board chair shares his thoughts on the current state of the industry and what the future holds for independent grocers.
1. The pandemic, a widespread labor shortage, supply chain issues, high fuel prices and now conflict in eastern Europe have created a perfect storm that’s driving inflation. What can be done to ease the pain on grocery operators as well as their customers?
There are certain macro factors that we are dealing with that are not in our control. For operators and customers, it is imperative to focus on the factors that are in our control. Controlling inventory and managing shrink, for example, are factors that deserve our attention. Creating a positive environment for team members and customers is another area where leaders have great influence. These are among the areas where retailers can play a significant role to ease the headwinds and help customers through the uncertainty of large-scale trends.
2. What are your expectations for the coming months?
We expect that labor and supply chain issues will begin to ease slightly. We expect inflation to continue to be a factor. We expect customers to seek value in their purchases. We believe the independent grocer is well positioned to help consumers with their choices.
3. With infection rates plummeting and mask mandates lifted, the pandemic seems to be over in the minds of many. But how will the experience of the pandemic continue to influence your operations?
The pandemic laid bare the essential work performed by grocers, especially local grocers, and their employees. The appreciation for what the public had previously taken for granted is something we expect will continue to play out in the coming months. There was, and continues to be, an appreciation for the work we do and its importance for a vibrant community.
4. What one thing must independent operators do to ensure growth and success?
Independent operators are the backbone of the grocery industry. We have inherent strengths, including our connection to team members and the community. We need to leverage our differentiation to grow and succeed.
5. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
I love spending time with my family, especially when we are involved in activities like travel or sports.