Stores of the Future?

crystal ball

The pandemic has had a significant impact on how people shop, but these buying habits are quickly changing. As a result, today’s supermarket leaders are imagining what tomorrow’s stores will look like.

Based on information published by SuperMarketNews, five key product categories that have been impacted the most include:

  1. Produce. Consumers have been moving toward local produce in supermarkets for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased demand as customers are more inclined to help out their local producers in a time of need while feeling better about food safety when produce is coming from suppliers they know. That has driven more stores to beef up their efforts to offer local produce.
  2. Bakery. Fresh bakery departments were among the hardest hit sections of the grocery store, as due to the pandemic people were afraid to purchase anything that others could come in contact with. At the onset of COVID-19 bakery sales dropped considerably as shoppers pivoted to purchasing longer shelf-life items and focused on buying staples versus indulgence products. But since last summer and fall, retailers have ramped up safety and protective measures throughout their bakeries and are working to entice customers back.
  3. Meat. Possibly its position as a “comfort food” has kept meat sales at a high level throughout the pandemic. However, as people are going ‘back to work’ it is likely that they will have less time for meal planning and preparation, so value-added innovation with respect to meal prep is going to be a very important factor going forward. Frozen meats also became more popular during the pandemic, and many grocers expect consumers to continue buying this option now that their comfort level with it is high.
  4. Deli. Sales of deli meats have been very high during the pandemic thanks in large part to more lunch occasions at home. However, some shoppers have shied away from the deli area because they have been reluctant to stand around other people while waiting their turn. Consequently, ‘grab and go’ options have become more popular. Finding ways to make people feel comfortable and safe has been a priority, and the current availability of vaccines is expected to ease the problem.
  5. Frozen foods. Pandemic-related efforts for stocking up on grocery items drove a big increase in frozen food sales over the past year, but sales are expected to dip back to more normal levels going forward.