COVID 19 created unprecedented challenges for business owners across the globe. Grocery retailers were certainly not immune to the challenges – in fact, they were on the front lines. Operational issues, human resources policies, logistics and much more were revised, updated and changed on a daily basis. There was no clear road map to guide decision-making. Much was left to the experience and imagination of individual business owners as guidelines were continuously being revised and updated by healthcare officials at both the national and local levels. Through it all, however, grocery retailers came out strong as consumers raided store shelves scooping up everything from toilet paper to classic packaged goods. According to Statista, an organization that tracks and reports consumer data, 2020 grocery store sales were +11.2% in 2020. So despite all the chaos – grocery retailers had a financially successful year.
So what does the future look like for the grocery category? Supermarket News recently published results from a national survey of grocery retailers. While sales projections are expected to slow down in 2021, grocery store operators remain optimistic for the future. Only 18% of respondents in the survey believe that sales will decline in 2021 vs 2020 – while 10% believe they will remain flat. That leaves more than 70% of respondents to believe that sales will continue to remain in a growth mode moving forward.
The top four efforts that the retailers say they will be undertaking – to ensure continued growth are in the areas of: Expanded online grocery/delivery (60% focusing in this area); Continued enhanced safety measures (59%); Expanded curbside pickup (48%); Improved supply chain efficiencies (42%).
In terms of the biggest threat moving forward – 43% of respondents believe that online retailers will be their biggest challenge (think Amazon). Warehouse clubs, which have historically been considered a big threat were recognized by only 10% of respondents as being a primary threat.
And who will grocery retailers target in 2021 through their varied marketing efforts? The traditional target of Moms – has been replaced by Millenials, with 32% of respondents stating that this group will be their primary target in 2021.
While it’s been a brutal year for grocery retailers, the industry has clearly demonstrated the grit that they are made from. The tenacity they have shown throughout the pandemic is remarkable. Clearly, grocery retail is not for the faint of heart.
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