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Safeway Eyes More Shopper Optimism

ORLANDO, Fla. — Safeway is recognizing “a little bit of a re-emergence of optimism among shoppers” as some come back to pre-recession behavior, Michael Minasi, the retailer’s president of marketing, said during a panel discussion at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference here.

Despite the optimism, “shoppers are more active in pre-shop planning around saving money,” he said. “So these are aggressive, involved shoppers, and we need to connect with them.”

Minasi said his biggest concern is the uncertainty of the economic recovery and the possibility that it may proceed more slowly than hoped. That outcome could lead to more competitive activity around the lowest prices, “which is not a strategy for building loyalty,” he said.

Among future opportunities is the “growth potential in how we merchandise and construct traditional grocery stores to meet the current needs of shoppers,” he said, pointing to a shift in which more people are living in urban environments. “I believe there are opportunities in format development.”

The panel was called “Competing in a Changed Retail Environment.” It was moderated by Thom Blischok, president, Global Innovation and Strategy, SymphonyIRI Group, and included Donald Knauss, chairman and CEO, The Clorox Co; Jeff Martin, executive vice president, merchandising and marketing, Ahold USA; and Judy Spires, CEO, AG Supermarket Holdings.

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