by Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs
Remember back when gluten-free products were all the rage? Product manufacturers tripped over themselves trying to get gluten-free versions of everyday staples on store shelves. Even standbys like oatmeal and Rice Krispies proudly proclaimed themselves to be gluten free.
Of course, they always were. But sometimes you have to remind folks who you are.
Kind of like independent grocers.
Our friends at FMS Solutions pointed out a recent report by analytics firm Placer.ai about how some grocery chains, in response to rising costs, are opening smaller-format stores, a move that reduces operational costs and, arguably, offers consumers a more efficient shopping experience.
The report calls out Midwest superstore chain Meijer for launching two smaller-format markets that offer a quick shopping experience focused on fresh, locally-sourced food and innovative technology. According to data cited in the report, these new stores are attracting customers with higher-than-average median household incomes.
Meanwhile, the Northeast’s legendary Wegmans opened three smaller-format stores last year in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington, D.C. The Delaware store reportedly enjoyed more visits per square foot during the first quarter of this year than other stores in the Philadelphia metro area despite being 40 percent smaller.
And though they say most things are bigger in Texas, H-E-B is finding success with a 12,000-square-foot store – one-sixth the average size of the chain’s locations – in downtown San Antonio.
While independent grocers operate stores of varying sizes, they’re typically smaller than the locations of their larger chain competitors. So, here’s one trend that independents can own without even trying.
Combine a smaller, easier-to-shop format with the better service, enhanced fresh selection and heightened community awareness for which independent have long been embraced, and you’ve got an on-trend, highly competitive grocer that delivers value on multiple levels.