Independent Grocers are Beating Chain Store Arrivals

The Lempert Report
June 23, 2023

There was a report that came from the Frozen and refrigerated buyer magazine which was really interesting to me. That talked about how independent grocers are beating chain store arrivals, especially since the pandemic, that these small, locally owned independence are really getting more love from consumers as a result of the pandemic. They want to be able to go in there and talk to somebody on a human connection basis, and also it's just much more pleasant to go into a store that's maybe 30,000 square foot versus one that's 100,000 square foot.

Sally: Yes, and this is a change that we are seeing in shopping behaviors, a change in what people want, particularly since the pandemic. They do want more of an in-store shopping experience. We all had to sit at home for a while and order our groceries, So maybe we came back after the shutdown really wanting to enjoy our grocery shopping. And with a smaller, independent grocer that is more possible. There's more interaction sometimes with the store managers and employees. They're not as technology-reliant. It's harder for them to be more technologically-reliant. And they also are able to respond a little bit quicker to customers' needs because there is not a big chain of bureaucracy that a big-box retailer has to go through to make something change in their store. So there are a lot of wonderful benefits to customers looking for that type of experience. And I think, in order to compete, a lot of these chains that have had to, you know, we've seen a lot of closings in the big chain stores, but a lot of them are going to start trying to up their in-store experience.

Phil: Dave Ball from Kansas City based Ball's food store. She's the third-generation supermarket owner here. One of his biggest hurdles, he says and this is something that you know we mentioned a little bit ago but also continues is his biggest hurdle is developing the next generation of leaders. He doesn't have a human resource department. It falls on the store manager to hire people and it's really a situation that, until we can figure out this labor problem, we're going to have problems, whether it be an independent or a franchise or you know any other kind of retail environment. It's a major problem that we really need to face.