Category Archives: Grocery shopping trends

Retail Grocery Predictions

A recent article published by Progressive Grocer predicts some big changes will take place within the retail food industry this year.

“We believe we’re in for the biggest shift in retail history, revolving around the dramatic change to digital mindsets,” the article said.

“The most important things in retail will become even more important. The things that have always been important to retailers — convenience, value and personalization — will continue to matter. In fact, they’ll matter more than ever. However, the ways that retailers deliver on those three core ideas is ripe for innovation.”

Their predictions for 2022 include:

  • The hybrid in-store and online model will continue to explode because it delivers convenience for shoppers.
  • Bundling will need to be redefined to offer even larger value to customers.
  • Personalized white-glove service will have to expand beyond the in-store experience.
  • As digital transformation accelerates, measuring results is going to become increasingly important.

Read the full article…

The Evolution of Online Grocery Shopping

A recent SupermarketNews article shared insights into how the dynamics of the online grocery market have changed.

Not only are more shoppers using online grocery options than before COVID, but they are also split in which “type” of online platform they prefer.

This nuance bodes well for how conventional grocers can strengthen their online grocery services to improve performance, because it turns out they aren’t really competing with the mass merchandisers who are far more developed in executing their respective online strategies and who operate on a much larger scale.

“We know from Brick Meets Click’s monthly e-shopper research that today’s shoppers choose to place online grocery orders with mass merchandisers for very different reasons than when they choose to place online orders with conventional grocers,” the article said. “In this context, mass rivals are not conventional grocers’ most meaningful competitor.”

A few additional data points from their research that conventional retailers should consider include:

  • In 2019, stores that had operated an online grocery service for a longer period of time reported higher weekly sales. This correlation no longer exists. COVID has changed the circumstances that drive adoption and usage.
  • The impact of a store’s service area population has also shifted. In 2019, stores in the largest markets generated the highest level of weekly sales; today, stores in mid-sized markets reported the strongest sales. In high-population areas, there is simply more competition for online grocery spending than there used to be. This makes it harder to grow without expanding in other ways.
  • Offering customers a choice between pickup and delivery instead of just one option continues to have a significant impact on sales.

Necessity & invention

As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

A good example involves the impact COVID has had on product sampling, a long-standing practice in supermarkets that came to a screeching halt due to concerns about safety.

“While some retailers and shoppers may be dipping back into onsite product sampling, the ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 and the continual emergence of variants have put a proverbial crimp in plans to fully bring it back,” said Senior Editor Lynn Petrak in a recent Progressive Grocer article.

The good news is that digital product sampling platform Sampler has stepped in to bridge the gap through a newly-formed partnership with grocery wholesale distributor UNFI to send product samples right to consumers’ homes.

Users can create an account on the Sampler platform and identify preferred products, and then UNFI handles the delivery.

“UNFI sells over 275,000 unique products from thousands of national, regional and local suppliers,” explained company President Chris Testa. “Working with Sampler, we can help deliver a solution for brands wanting to generate greater trial and consumer awareness for their products.”

Another good example of improving the customer experience through innovation and resiliency!

Amazon Reduces Waste with New ‘Curbside Recyclable’ Delivery Packaging

SupermarketNews recently reported that Amazon has unveiled a new sustainable food packaging solution for the point of delivery.

The article referenced a statement from Stephenie Landry, vice president of Amazon Grocery, indicating perishables deliveries from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market now will come in “curbside recyclable” insulated paper packaging.

“Rolling out just in time for Thanksgiving, Amazon’s new packaging is made from recycled paper and is curbside recyclable. Whether customers are ordering turkey, green beans, or frosty pints of ice cream, chilled and frozen foods from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market will arrive insulated in packaging that is easy and convenient for customers to recycle at home.”

As part of Amazon’s overall sustainability effort, they say the new packaging will replace of the plastic liners and bubble bags that are often used to insulate chilled and frozen items. It will also cut back on material waste they claim, replacing about 735,000 pounds of plastic film, 3.15 million pounds of natural cotton fiber and 15 million pounds of non-recyclable mixed plastic annually.

Key considerations in developing the new packaging included sending less material to landfills and more back into the circular economy loop while ensuring that the insulated material properly chilled the food inside and was compact, flexible, easily recyclable, inexpensive and scalable, according to a company spokesperson.

5 Grocery Trends in 2021

The grocery business has been, as we all know, greatly impacted by the pandemic and shifts in consumer shopping habits and demand. The return of more grocery shoppers in-store has retailers breathing a sigh of relief, but supply chain issues and the associated challenges of getting stock into the store are concerning.

SupermarketNews recently published a report listing five key trends that have emerged this year:

  1. Fresh is back on track! With bakery and deli sections reopening and rebounding, things look bright on the perimeter.
  2. Supply chain issues linger, impacting center store most and increasing the likelihood of Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) out of stocks.
  3. Beverage sales are up, with single-serve beverages making a comeback as consumers resume their more active lifestyles.
  4. Snacks have become more popular as all-day noshing buoys the category both in-store and online. It seems younger consumers are more likely to snack for lunch.
  5. Wellness and weight control have had a positive impact on demand for vitamins and supplements, but flu remedies are lagging.

Stockpile Alert?

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of Inmar Intelligence research that warned retailers and consumers alike that we could be in for another wave of consumer stockpiling.

With COVID-19 infection rates climbing and mounting concerns about the Delta variant, a surprising number of people are fearing the worst.

Of 1,000 U.S. adults surveyed by Inmar, 69.4% said they’re considering replenishing a current stockpile of groceries and other essential products as transmission of the Delta variant increases.

Forty-six percent have already created a product stockpile in response to coronavirus, and 12% of those that haven’t done so said they now will stock up because of the Delta variant.

Another 32.8% said they’re not sure if they will build up their supplies.

Interestingly, sixty percent of consumers polled reported still having products in stockpile they created because of the COVID-19 outbreak! And sixty-five percent said they now plan to always have a stock of food and supplies for emergencies like the pandemic.

If these projections should prove to be accurate, grocery shopping trends could very well shift back to what we experienced at the height of the pandemic, which included larger average order size and an influx in online transactions.

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.

Online Shopping Preferences

A recent SupermarketNews article shared the results of the latest NielsenIQ omnibus poll, which indicated U.S. online shoppers value speed of delivery.

“Same-day delivery, same-day pickup and next-day/later pickup all gained traction among online consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas two-day and next-day delivery lost interest,” the article said.

Their findings were based on NielsenIQ’s Omnichannel Shopping Fundamentals Survey, conducted in February and March 2021. Other findings of note include:

  • 61% of online grocery shoppers said they prefer same day deliver. This compares to only 27% of shoppers saying they considered same day delivery in September of 2020, versus only 20% in 2019
  • 39% of online shopper panelists claimed a preference for having their product deliveries consolidated in one shipment to reduce packaging and frequency of trips, even if it extended the delivery time
  • 63.2% of homes with children favored quick delivery versus 59.8% of households without kids

Post COVID Supermarket Expectations

After a year of record-setting sales in the grocery industry due to the pandemic retailers are anticipating those once-in-a-lifetime numbers to normalize somewhat in 2021 says a recent SupermarketNews article.

The impact of COVID on the grocery industry, which included some heavy “stock-up” buying, has been significant. Here are some of the highlights:

  • US online grocery sales reached a new high of $9.3 billion
  • Nearly two-thirds of consumers reported switching purchase loyalty to less-expensive brands
  • Sales of meat increased an unprecedented 34.6% during the pandemic
  • Frozen food sales rose 21% over the previous year
  • 85% of consumers said they aim to eat family meals at home more often or the same amount as they did before the pandemic when things return to a “new normal.”

Looking ahead to the balance of 2021, the rollout of vaccines and the reopening of many businesses and a return to indoor dining will have an impact on grocery sales, although most feel they should remain elevated for much of this year.

Canada’s Virtual Food Festival: Another Example of Innovation

In an enormous effort to keep stakeholders at all levels informed and engaged, and another good example of innovative solutions during the pandemic, Canada is running a virtual “Flavors Food Festival.”

The four day event, scheduled for March 22-25, will feature direct connections with Canadian food, beverage, and ingredient companies. Attendees will include supermarket, specialty retail, c-store, food service, food distribution, food manufacturing, and alcohol importers, distributors, and retailers looking to find new products from innovative brands.

Educational breakout sessions will also be offered.

Surprisingly, there is no cost to join in the fun!

More information…