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Grocery retailer confidence strong heading into 2021, says SN survey

Despite continuing challenges from COVID-19, operators optimistic about sales growth and the overall economy

More than 150 grocery retailers (including brick-and-mortar, online and omnichannel) shared their thoughts and plans for 2021 in Supermarket News’ first Retailer Expectations Survey, covering such topics as the economy, sales projections, store count and hiring, and, of course, the impact of COVID-19 as we get closer to the one-year mark since the pandemic first struck the United States.

More than 65% of retailers expressed that they are extremely or fairly confident in the strength of the overall economy going into 2021. As for grocery sales, the optimism was even higher: When asked how they anticipate sales to perform in the first six months 2021, 82% of respondents said they expect sales to either stay the same or increase during that time frame, with nearly half (46%) anticipating a sales increase of 1% to 9%.

Among the steps retailers plan to take this year to sustain the staggering sales growth spurred by the pandemic in 2020, are introducing or expanding online grocery/delivery and continuing enhanced safety measures (including masks and PPE, plexiglass partitions, social distancing), cited by 60% and 59% of retailers, respectively. Curbside pickup will also get more traction this year, as 48% of retailers plan to introduce or expand the service.

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