retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times this morning reports that “like cars and homes, grocery stores are beginning to shrink. After years of building bigger stores — many larger than a football field and carrying 60,000 items — retailers are experimenting with radically smaller grocery stores that emphasize prepared meals, fresh produce and grab-and-go drinks.

“The idea is to lure time-starved shoppers who want to pick up a few items or a fast meal without wandering long grocery aisles or paying restaurant prices.”

In addition to Tesco’s Fresh & Easy and Walmart, companies building small stores include Safeway, Jewel-Osco, and Giant-Eagle…and even Whole Foods is reported to be considering a smaller store concept.

According to the Times story, “The big grocery chains are not thinking about closing their larger stores, which have been a success. But they hope to capture new business with the smaller stores, appealing to consumers on days when they do not have time for a long shopping trip.”

KC's View:
Not only that, but the small store formats can help companies get around the objections that some communities have to big box stores.

The modern customer wants what she wants, when she wants it, how she wants it, where she wants it, at a price she believes is appropriate. It simply makes sense for retailers to offer a variety of options, ranging from different-sized stores to online shopping…because to not offer a variety of venues is to concede at least some opportunities to another retailer.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that…there is such a thing, after all, as the intelligent loss of business. But for many of these retailers, it isn’t an option.