Customers for a dollar: Will inflation be here for the long haul? Probably not, but discount grocers are using this time of high food prices to try to capture market share forever. The Dollar Store and Dollar General have doubled-down on store improvements, including more refrigerator and freezer space, to win over customer loyalty. Why? Because PYMNT research shows when shoppers want value they are far more likely to get in their car and go to the store rather than get on their computer and go to the store’s website. Dollar stores are in a push to change their shopper demographic and want to start attracting those that come from higher incomes. They might have more time than originally thought, as studies are showing many consumers believe inflation will continue through 2024. Grocers should be experts at appeasing shoppers by then, and that should continue even when inflation stops.
Questions for Quin: It’s always nice to have a shopping companion, even one from the AI world. Sprouts Farmers Market in South Philadelphia has a digital worker named Quin that is there for any questions shoppers may have. Just do not ask why the Eagles lost the Super Bowl … we all know how crazy Philly fans can be. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Erin McCarthy thought it would be worth the news print to saddle up with Quin for a grocery shopping spree. If nothing else, it would be entertaining. McCarthy found the AI to be quite helpful in general. However, don’t ask it for recommendations for what could be served with beef. Quin suggested peanut butter. Hey, maybe keep it to simple things a South Philly AI would know, like what goes with a Philly cheesesteak. Overall, McCarthy would recommend AI to help you navigate a shopping list. Grocers are hoping the technology becomes more popular so workers can focus on more important tasks than answering questions. Of course, what’s more important than connecting with the customers?
Life in the big city: Walmart shook the Chicago business landscape a couple weeks ago when it announced stores would be closing on the south and west sides. There has been a sudden rush of grocery store departures in the Second City. Whole Foods also said it was shuttering markets. Some say the south side economy has not been the same since the George Floyd riots, but businesses have reopened since then. Land owners, however, often take a far back seat to the business instead of taking the neighborhood by the hand and building a relationship. They are there for tax-incentive purposes, and as soon as it dries up they are galloping off. As a grocer, it pays to know your shoppers … and it pays big dividends to be seen as one of them. Smaller supermarkets could fill the Walmart and Whole Foods void, but it is sad to know what could have been if more of an effort was made by the fat cats.
Retirement is in the bag: You are never too old to retire. For WinCo grocery store bagger Betty Glover, the 19th hole is finally in play. The 91-year-old has been bagging groceries at the Medford, Ore., store for the last 10 years and has worked for the last 70 years. She set up a GoFundMe to raise $40,000 so she could pay off the camper she was living in, and customers responded with open wallets. The GoFundMe produced over $80,000 and the leftover cash will be used to pay for medical expenses moving forward. “It really is heart-warming, and it makes me want to cry,” Glover said of the support. When grocery stores and their customers can bring this much joy, it makes the final outcome all worth it.
Boston’s Basket: Walmart does not have a thing on Boston’s Market Basket. That’s because Walmart is not a thing in Boston (there is not one store to be found within the city limits), but seriously Market Basket would give the discount retailer a run for the money. According to the Chain Store Guide, Market Basket is the most popular in the greater Boston area with 20% of the market share. Stop & Shop is second with 14.8% with Walmart attracted enough in the suburbs to come in third at 12.3%. Market researcher Dunnhumby goes one step further, crowning Market Basket as the best store in the nation for inflationary times. So apparently Walmart is trailing in that category as well. It’s a good thing Sam Walton is not alive to see this.
With Walmart and Whole Foods closing stores in Chicago, experts say this is a perfect opportunity for smaller grocers to move in. Do you think smaller grocers could survive where larger stores could not? Let us know in the comments below, or email your thoughts to the SN staff at [email protected].