Local Grocers Fight Shrinking Budgets

According to the Labor Department the consumer-price index has increased 0.5 percent, the most since June 2009, leaving households to face the challenge of purchasing necessities with limited budgets. Supermarket News reports, “Despite rising prices, the average American is spending 7 percent less each month on groceries and $94.60 on a routine trip compared to $98.70 in 2010. ” While limited trips to the store and barebone baskets hurt grocery stores of all sizes, it is the independent and local grocery shops that have to work harder to keep customers coming, and more importantly, spending.

What Are Grocery Stores Doing to Meet Shrinking Budgets

A simple solution in this time of shrinking budgets is for grocery stores to offer weekly specials and coupon deals. As Supermarket News notes, “41 percent of Americans are taking advantage of sales/coupons.” Consumers like to receive products for FREE, and if that isn’t possible, they like to get them next to nothing. Coupons are a simple and traditional way of enticing or marketing to your consumer who is living and buying on a budget. Such an approach seems to be highly adopted as “Marketers distributed 332 billion coupons for packaged goods in 2010, the largest quantity ever recorded in the U.S.,” according to NCH Marketing Services.

Beside weekly coupon inserts, grocery stores, like many other independent retailers, should also invest in a rewards program. Local grocers can learn from supermarkets, such as Stop & Shop. This supermarket chain in the Northeast, as part of its rewards club, offers one gas point for every dollar you spend. Earn 100 points, save $0.10 per gallon, for 200 and 300 points you save $0.20 and $0.30 a gallon respectively. Valid for 30 days, the points can be redeemed at any Stop & Shop gas station, or participating Shell Stations. It’s all about packaging. Don’t be discouraged by Gas Rewards. The key is to make your customer feel like you are giving them more for their money.

The next step is to get creative and interact with your customers in a new way. Take for instance, Winn-Dixie, which has launched a smartphone application, providing the weekly circular, as well as comparable sales of grocery stores in the surrounding area. The lesson to be learned from the supermarket’s investment in mcommerce, don’t be afraid to try new things, to reach your consumers in a new way, and most importantly, to illustrate to your customers that you have their best interest in mind.