Stores

Grocery retailers are carving out success in small places

Adding small-format stores to their lineup is a growing trend amongst retailers looking to pack high sales volume into fewer square feet.
Small format grocery store
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Grocery retailers are carving out success in small places, finding that big is not always better when it comes to shoppers’ needs and wants.

GreenWise Market, the banner owned and operated by Lakeland, Florida-based Publix Super Markets Inc., is a small-format specialty grocery store with a variety of organic and essential groceries. It had more foot traffic year over year than the grocery retailer’s Publix supermarkets in Florida, according to new data from foot-traffic analytics firm Placer.ai.

September visits to GreenWise Market in Florida were up 6.4% year over year while Florida Publix stores saw 3.9% fewer visits, Placer.ai reported earlier this month.

GreenWise Market experienced double-digit growth for the months of June, July and August, while monthly visits in Florida to Publix dropped.

There is a growing willingness in retail [at] large, but in grocery more specifically, to look for more innovative ways to drive value,” Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing at Placer.ai, told WGB. “One such mechanism for grocers is shifting the actual size of focus of their brick-and-mortar locations. The willingness to look at smaller options widens their optionality from a location perspective, and also enables them to be more focused in terms of merchandising in an attempt to bring the ideal product mix to each physical space.”

As one of the largest employee-owned grocers in the U.S., Publix employs more than 240,000 associates at its 1,313 locations, a giant compared to GreenWise Market’s eight locations.

“By using the small-format concept, Publix is setting GreenWise apart and offering customers a premium grocery experience without impacting the wider Publix brand,” Placer.ai said.

But despite its smaller stature, GreenWise Market gained more dwell time, compelling shoppers to stroll its aisles longer than they do at Publix. A GreenWise Market in Odessa, Florida, saw a median dwell time of 28 minutes, while the median dwell time at three neighboring Publix locations were at 26, 25 and 24 minutes, Placer.ai reported.

As this trend continues to pick up pace, expect more chains to experiment with concepts like these to improve the overall experience in-store and the efficiency it enables,” Chernofsky told WGB.

Midwest grocer Meijer unveiled in September a small-footprint grocery concept slated to open in 2023. Meijer’s newest brick-and-mortar store concept, called Meijer Grocery, is looking to provide a quick in-and-out shopping experience for every customer, the retailer said.

"This new concept store will not only provide our customers with everything they need on their weekly shopping trip, but also a quick-and-easy solution for when they realize they left the key ingredient off their list while cooking dinner," Meijer’s Group VP of Foods Don Sanderson said in a statement.

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