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3 Tips for Grocers on Beating Inflationary Heat This Summer

From center store basics to fresh perimeter, inflation is high and holding across retail grocery.

The price per unit across all foods and beverages in the IRI-measured multi-outlet stores increased to 10.7% in the four weeks ending April 24, versus the same four weeks in 2021, according to a new report by 210 Analytics.

Inflation was in the double-digits in the center of the store as well as in perishables. Compared to April 2019, prices across all foods and beverages were up 21.3%.

As consumers search for opportunities to save money, some buying patterns of old, such as shopping with a list and choosing frozen and shelf stable options over fresh, are coming back into play, noted Anne-Marie Roerink, principal and founder of 210 Analytics.

“As an industry, I think it’s super important to understand what those patterns are, but also, how we can get people to shop beyond the list by delighting them in a variety of different ways,” said Roerink in a recent podcast by data analytics firm, IRI.

Prioritize “Grazing” with Guests

In the same podcast, Jonna Parker, principal at IRI’s Fresh Center of Excellence, predicts the summer will be a home-based entertaining season in light of the inflationary environment, with get-togethers that are slightly larger and more frequent than last year.

In IRI’s April 2022 survey of primary shoppers, 15% of respondents said they are expecting to entertain more.

Solutions like deli trays and platters — which have been among the growth leaders for several months — will continue to be key offerings.

“In-stock availability, a variety of sizes, and playing into the hot streak of charcuterie are great ways to grow sales,” said Parker.

“It’s also going to be a grazing summer,” she added. Offering a unique variety of options to both satisfy and impress guests, such a multiple meats and plant-based alternatives on the grill, presents “a tremendous opportunity for the industry.”

Leverage Digital to “Surprise & Delight”

While strategic placement and creative displays are time-tested techniques to drive sales in-store, “suggestive selling is really what the internet — outside of food — is known for,” said Parker.

Retailers who are willing get creative with their digital strategies can unlock significant growth. Examples from Parker and Roerink include:

  • Using QR codes on in-store displays to share recipe ideas for presented ingredients.
  • Utilizing websites and apps to create promotions that are personalized, innovative, and agile.
  • Translating in-store impulse experiences to online shopping through curated landing pages and adventurous product suggestions.

Keep “Solving the Meal”

Presenting shoppers with creative new ideas for meal preparation will also be a key as restaurants retain their stride in the months ahead.

“The way we eat now is very focused on convenience, solutions, and fuel,” said Parker. “I think food service will continue to be a part of the solution…but a lot is going to depend on where people feel the most surprised and delighted.”

“This concept of who is curating your meal and helping you see the solutions that you need, I think that line is blurry,” said Parker, adding that whoever best meets the consumers exploratory and dietary needs will be the one who wins. “In some places, that is the retailer serving as restauranteur.”

Stay up to date on inflation developments using The Food Institute’s Inflation Central page: Click Here