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Life Post COVID-19: Adapting to a New Grocery Store Normal

July 09, 2020 2:41 PM | Greene (Administrator)

Sheltering in place. Social distancing. Face mask required.

With COVID-19 affecting virtually every aspect of our lives, changing the way we shop for groceries is no different. Status quo and conventional wisdom have gone out the window, replaced by a new normal of “contactless pickup,” “one-way store aisles” and other necessary measures. As customers adapt to a new way of shopping, grocers and retailers must also adapt.

Pre-COVID 19, convenience already was highly valued by consumers and that has only increased exponentially in quarantine.

Instacart, Walmart Grocery and Shipt have seen their daily downloads surge by 218 percent, 160 percent and 124 percent, respectively.1

Making changes to boost customer traffic in grocery stores will require flexibility, nimbleness and creativity.

Restaurants have done a good job of creating appealing and convenient offerings to diners in the wake of restaurants being shuttered. Real world examples include offering more “grab and go” offerings, selling raw beef and pork in takeout kits and introducing alcohol delivery.

How can grocery stores continue to generate more traffic and increase beef and pork sales during quarantine?

Here are a few ideas:

  • Stock more ready-made and convenient to-go options in your meat case. Yes, people are sheltering in place, but they’re still busy. Providing protein rich, delicious meal options that can be prepared quickly will always be popular with shoppers whether they’re buying for one or a family of five.
  • Offer special discounts on beef and pork. Unemployment is high and a large chunk of the population is struggling to make ends meet. And even if they aren’t, everyone loves a discount, a BOGO or a giveaway.
  • Start offering home delivery or online shopping with contactless pickup – if you already offer it, waive or slash your usual fee to remove a barrier to customers trying it for the first time.
  • Leverage your social media platforms to share quick and easy beef and pork recipes. People have time in quarantine to try new dishes but don’t necessarily want to attempt anything super complicated. With the arrival of summer, recipes that focus on grilling out are always a big hit.
  • Offer meal kits with pre-marinated meats that skew toward international cuisines. Quarantine is a good time for people to try new things and encouraging experimentation is another way to increase foot traffic.

And here are a few general grocery store suggestions not specifically related to fresh meats:

  • Reassure customers by posting signs outlining the steps taken to ensure their safety, such as additional deep cleanings of the store.
  • Be even more friendly than usual – in an age of social distancing, simply greeting customers (at a safe distance, of course) can go a long way.
  • Create special hours first thing in the morning for elderly or high-risk shoppers to shop before the general public is allowed in.
  • Partner with “quarantine friendly” companies such as Redbox to offer coupons for free movie rentals.

Whatever you decide to do to try and boost traffic, just be sure you do something. Daily life post-COVID 19 will be completely reshaped and changed by this virus. Taking steps to position your business to succeed is crucial to the future of your store. Now is not the time to “ride out the storm.” It’s time to be proactive, creative and inventive.

The Missouri Grocers Association315 N Ken Ave, Springfield, MO 65802 | Phone: 417-831-6667 | Fax: 417-831-3907

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