As many retailers will attest, external factors often create new forms of competition, which might well be the case for supermarkets in 2015.
According to a recent CSP Net article, more than 80% of convenience store retailers said they were optimistic about business prospects for first-quarter 2015, and 58% see a chance to expand foodservice sales in 2015.
The top reason? The decline in gasoline prices during the second half of 2014, falling to more than $1.00 per gallon below year-ago prices.
According to 62% of convenience store retailers, consumers were spending their savings from lower gas prices in the store. And 73% said they enjoyed higher merchandise sales in 2014 compared to the year prior, and 88% of retailers said that prepared foods would be an important offer for 2015.
“Foodservice fits the immediate consumption and time-starved needs of our consumers,” said Sonja Hubbard, CEO of E-Z Mart, Texarkana, Texas. “It is an obvious fit, as long as it is a quality offer.”
“Consumers are looking for quick, fresh and easy snacks or meals that can be consumed on the run,” said Julie Jackson, general manager and senior vice president at G&M Oil, Huntington Beach, Calif. And Tim Switzer, COO and executive vice president at Radiant Food Stores, Tampa, Fla, described prepared food as “our industry’s future.”
Produce also has a lot of interest from convenience store retailers, who acknowledge its appeal and challenge; 61% of retailers cited produce as an important offer for 2015. “The trend is for fresh and better-for-you products,” said Giselle Eastlack, general manager of Diaz Market, Metairie, La.
So as the battle for food shoppers rages on, supermarkets are impacted by a variety of shifts in shopping trends. All the more reason, I’d say, to delight customers and promote loyalty through exceptional customer service and engagement.