The New Grocery Store

The New Grocery Store

Share this:

The General Store of the 1800s eventually became the supermarket (when the Astor Market in New York and  Piggly Wiggly in Tennessee opened their doors in the early 1900s. From 1915 to 1975, A&P was the largest grocery store in the U.S. (and the biggest retailer of any kind).

Fast-forward to our current omnichannel and omnistore MULO (multi-location) era.

  • Walmart and Target now have full grocery sections. (Both stores reported that adding this feature put a dent in other in-store purchases.)
  • Consumers frequent large discount warehouses like Costco (800+ locations) or Sam’s Club (600 locations).
  • Health-oriented specialty groceries like Sprouts (350+ stores) are expanding.
  • Regional grocery stores still exist and are finding creative ways to build loyalty within their shopper bases.
  • As we know, Amazon has groceries on its site and, like Instacart and Doordash, saves consumers time and travel in going out to stock up.
  • Although not designed for major grocery shopping expeditions, convenience stores are often shopped for “top-off” staples (like bread, milk, and other basics) and quick meals.

Today’s consumer has many options and (sadly) a new study of 1,500 shoppers by Swiftly (a retail technology company)  revealed two-thirds of consumers today still struggle to afford groceries. The study also unveiled some additional MULO grocery shopping trends and behaviors. For example:

  • Consumers still prefer to shop in person. The majority of people in the research sample shop in-person at local grocery stores (77%), at big retailers, like Target and Walmart (53%), online at major retailers (37%), or through delivery apps like Instacart and DoorDash (21%).
  • Consumers are using a variety of tactics to offset increasing grocery costs. The most popular tactics include using coupons (82%), loyalty cards (64%), and retail apps (34%).

Can a grocery store be “popular?” Apparently, yes.

Another study published in Real Simple indicates that Aldi is the favorite grocery brand, followed closely by Trader Joe’s. Kroger also scored high, which shows that even a huge national brand can win consumers’ hearts and wallets. Safeway and Winn-Dixie were also in the Top 10.  Of interest is that 7-Eleven (C-store) and Whole Foods also ranked highly.  Rounding out the top five are 7-Eleven and Whole Foods, which scored a 60 percent popularity rating and 57 percent popularity rating, respectively.

Many of us are used to self-scanning at groceries and other retailers and a variety of other technologies are making their way into MULO grocery stores — from digital advertising throughout these retailers to apps that enable consumers to create shopping lists, get coupons, and earn loyalty points. Technologies are also being used to reduce operating costs and we’ll soon see robots stocking shelves.

But despite those innovations, small specialty food stores (like the original general store, but with a more exotic selection) still exist.

As long as people need to eat to live, the grocery store will have an important place in the MULO ecosystem!


Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.