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Apples vs. oranges: New food-drug concept marks departure from trend

BY Michael Johnsen

GREENVILLE, S.C. —More drug store retailers are testing expanded food offerings these days—the latest being a partnership pairing Rite Aid and Supervalu’s Save-A-Lot banner—in an attempt to increase trip opportunities. And given the evolving shopping behaviors of today’s consumer, it’s a strategy that just might work.

You only have to look as far as a recent SymphonyIRI Group study to realize why a general gravitation toward expansion of food store offerings in retail pharmacy settings makes sense. Consumers today are shopping across fewer retailers and are increasing the frequency of their “quick trip” shopping excursions. Total trips across all retailers have declined steadily since second quarter 2009, SymphonyIRI reported, with the exception of those “need-it-now” trips, which have remained steady since that time and actually have jumped dramatically in second quarter 2010.

“You have to think in terms of what is a weekly grocery shopping trip,” said Jeff Weidauer, VP marketing at Vestcom International, a company that helps drive awareness around these food offerings at the drug store with in-store shelf-edge communications. “The idea of Harriet Nelson going to the store once a week…really isn’t the norm any longer. People are shopping more frequently [and], especially where it concerns fresh foods, they’re buying them more just in time.”

Rite Aid’s deal is unique in that it’s partnering with hard-discount grocer Save-A-Lot, a factor that establishes a well-known and growing food store brand within Rite Aid’s four walls of health and wellness. And the strategy meshes with Rite Aid’s segmentation initiative, where the chain is implementing separate marketing and merchandising strategies for stores based on volume and which half of the store fares better—the pharmacy or the front-end.

The initial 10-store test in South Carolina is expected to help boost front-end sales, Cheryl Slavinsky, Rite Aid director of public relations, told Drug Store News. “Since early 2009, we’ve been transitioning from operating all of our stores the same way to identifying unique opportunities among like groups of stores,” she said. “And this is one of those unique opportunities.”

And Supervalu has dedicated quite a bit of capital against the rapid expansion of Save-A-Lot outlets in the Carolinas and nearby markets—as many as 100 new locations are planned for the company’s current fiscal year, and more than half of these stores will open across the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

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Giant Eagle awarded for green efforts

BY Allison Cerra

PITTSBURGH Giant Eagle has received four awards from the Environmental Protection Agency for its eco-friendly practices and sustainability efforts, the supermarket retailer said.

Giant Eagle was the recipient of the EPA Montreal Protocol award, the GreenChill environmental award, the GreenChill building certification and the EPA Smartway transport partnership perfect performance score.

“Our multiple partnerships with the EPA are a significant piece of our overall sustainability strategy, which also includes our energy management efforts and recycling initiatives,” said Shelly Sponholz, Giant Eagle SVP real estate and development. “We truly believe that our environmental commitment is a vital part to the success of both our communities and our business, as so many of the sustainable projects we undertake produce tangible benefits to each.”

Giant Eagle operates stores throughout western Pennsylvania, Ohio, north central West Virginia and Maryland.

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Retailers urge Congress to reject Chinese currency legislation

BY Alaric DeArment

ARLINGTON, Va. As members of Congress move to try and force China to revalue its currency, the renminbi yuan, retailers are weighing in on the issue.

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents more than 200 retailers, manufacturers and suppliers, asked lawmakers Friday to reject legislation under consideration Friday morning by the House Ways and Means Committee that would pressure China on its currency by imposing tariffs on products imported from there.

 

Alarge share of consumer products sold in the United States are made in China, and in many cases are no longer made in the United States. Thus, placing tariffs on goods imported from China could force retailers to pass the costs onto consumers.

 

 

“Provoking tension with our trading partners doesn’t come without costs, and we should choose our battles carefully, especially given the great amount of uncertainty in markets at this time,” RILA VP international trade Stephanie Lester said. “It makes little sense to enact harmful policies that will spark a bilateral conflict over currency with one of our largest trading partners and fastest-growing markets for American exports, given almost stagnant economic growth.”

 

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