Natural Foods Merchandiser

The 800-Pound Food Gorilla?

According to ACNielsen, the supercenter is super at least in two respects: generating new household penetration and customer trip frequency.

In a study released in April, the market research firm reported that between 1999 and 2002, the percentage of shoppers visiting supercenters grew from 52 percent to 63 percent—just beating out dollar stores, the only other channel to gain market share.

Todd Hale, ACNielsen senior vice president, said while grocery stores enjoy 100 percent household penetration, supercenters and their low-price cousins are coming on strong.

Supercenters showed a marked increase in trip frequency, from 15 to 21 trips per year, while mass merchandise and grocery lost ground. Groceries dropped from 83 trips in 1999 to 73 in 2002.

Hale sees opportunity in disguise. "In order to defend their turf, grocery retailers need to focus on perimeter departments, making sure that their 'fresh' departments—produce, baked goods, meat, seafood and deli—are the best in town," he said. "Let's face it, today you can get pain relievers at office supply stores and snacks at video rental stores, but not everyone can do a great job with fresh produce."

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXIV/number 5/p.

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