Progressive Grocer

DEC 2016

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38 | Progressive Grocer | Ahead of What's Next | December 2016 Grocery Growth Strategies Alive and Kicking Center store isn't dead — but it does need a creative boost. By Randy Hofbauer M any have claimed center store to be "dead" or "dying." But gro- cers need not fret: Such news appears to be, for the most part, a lot of doom and gloom. Although the perimeter of many retail stores is starting to account for larger sales, center store is still contributing to overall growth, Schaumburg, Ill.-based research firm Nielsen notes. Looking at the 52 weeks ending Aug. 22, 2015, center store ac- counted for $709.4 billion in sales across the United States, up $56.7 billion from 2011. "In fact, center store sales have benefited from many of the same trends driving growth in the pe- rimeter," says Jordan Rost, VP of consumer insights at Nielsen. For instance, while bread sales have been flat over the past four years, those of tortilla wraps have grown at nearly 8 percent. Vinegars and liquid coffee and tea also have experienced rising sales. e bad news, however, is that Millennials, an incredibly large generation that's gaining spend- ing power, aren't making center store purchases as much in the supermarket channel as they are elsewhere, such as mass merchandisers or dollar stores, says John Owen, senior food and drink analyst with Chicago-based market research firm Mintel. is could spell trouble for many tradi- tional grocers, which now need to come up with new ways to attract this increasingly valuable demographic to center store. So, in time for 2017, here are five things grocers can consider doing to "spruce up" center store: 1 Deliver solutions, not just products: Since consumers today have experienced the ease of online curation, they now often seek more solution- and occasion-based shopping offline, too. New ways of rethinking center store include organizing around themes such as breakfast, school lunches and entertaining, as well as secondary placement in the faster-growing perimeter depart-

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