LAS VEGAS — Price was not one of consumers' top 10 concerns in a 2013 study of shopper trends released by the National Grocers Association, though that statistic could already be changing, Mark Batenic, president and chief operating officer of IGA, Chicago, said here Tuesday during a panel discussion at the 30th annual NGA Show.
"That is a surprising statistic," he said, "but it could be changing as we speak, given the changes since January in tax laws that affect personal income. In fact, there is evidence customers are beginning to trade down again as they see their incomes dropping."
Art Potash, chief executive officer of Potash Markets, a three-store operator in Chicago, said he views the statistic as encouraging for independents like himself who do not compete on price. "Though we are competitively priced, we focus on other things to reenergize ourselves, with service and fast checkout our top priorities.
"But going forward, we may have to change our priorities and improve each fresh department to become better merchandisers. Fast checkouts and good service will keep existing customers coming back, but we must attract new consumers as well."
Jeff Brown, president and chief executive officer of Brown's Super Stores, Westville, N.J., said his priority in his stores in Philadelphia's food deserts is not price "but trying to move our customers to eat healthier — our job as an independent operator is to help them make healthier choices."
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