Progressive Grocer

JAN 2017

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2017 Retail Outlook January 2017 | progressivegrocer.com | 53 T he bleak macroeconomic landscape, includ- ing deflation, and various regulatory issues, such as the Affordable Care Act, Fair Labor Standards Act and minimum wage laws, may be keeping retailers up at night, but grocers large and small are entering 2017 optimistic about the Trump administration, which is viewed as largely pro-business. One of the hallmarks of the grocery in- dustry is that hard times bring out the best in innovation. It will be called for in the coming year, as competition for the food dollar continues to expand to nontraditional outlets, including subscription services, e-commerce companies, and such nontraditional purveyors as home improvement and home goods retailers. Within traditional grocery retail, deep discounters, in- cluding Aldi and Lidl, the latter of which will make its U.S. debut by 2018, are a threat to retailers unable to compete beyond low prices. A point of difference in favor of traditional supermar- kets, most agree, is customer service, which will be a focal point for many retailers. Expect those committed to the customer experience to invest more in recruitment, training and retention. Experience will extend beyond smiling faces to mobile communications and e-commerce solutions, but grocers admit the financial struggle of investing heavily in both in-store and virtual customer service. Assortment is also a focus for the coming year, as retail- ers indicate they'll be investing more in their perimeter departments, notably fresh prepared food offerings. Grocers recognize that shoppers want the convenience of prepared meal solutions paired with the speed of takeout. PG 's editors reached out to members of the retailer community to ask them these questions: What are your company's top priorities for 2017? What areas of the customer experience will you focus on most closely? What do you consider to be the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry as a whole? What impact do you foresee a new presidential admin- istration having on the supermarket industry? The following retail executives shared insights for our 2017 Retail Outlook: Maria Brous, director of media and community relations, Publix Super Markets Richard Cashion, VP of retail operations, Healthy Home Market Chris Coborn, president and CEO, Coborn's Inc. John Cortesi, president and CEO, Sunset Foods Kevin Davis, chairman and CEO, Bristol Farms Wayne Denningham, EVP and COO, Albertsons Cos. Scott Drew, EVP of operations, Smart & Final Stores Dan Glei, EVP of merchandising and marketing, K-VA-T Food Stores Inc. Heather Isely, EVP, Natural Grocers Lauren G.R. Johnson, CEO, Newport Ave. Market Art Potash, CEO, Potash Markets Dan Shanahan, president and COO, Buehler's Fresh Foods Kirk Stoa, EVP and CFO, Festival Foods Jimmy Wright, owner, Wright's Market By and large, they share many common goals, face common challenges and recognize common opportunities, while expressing what might best be described as cautious optimism about the retail landscape, the economy and what impact a new presidential administration might have on both in the coming year. eir responses follow, edited for space ... Challenges Temper Optimism Retailers to focus on points of differentiation in 2017. By Joan Driggs, Jim Dudlicek, Bridget Goldschmidt, Randy Hofbauer, Meg Major and Katie Martin

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