Natural Foods Merchandiser

Retailers optimistic and proactive, according to recent survey

Retailers remain hopeful about 2010 revenue and are taking the initiative to boost in-store sales, according to the latest Natural Foods Merchandiser, Nutrition Business Journal Retailer Survey.

“The retailers that we surveyed appear to remain cautiously optimistic about the growth of retail sales in 2010. Three-quarters of respondents expect sales growth to be even or positive for 2010, with in-store sales, demos and local advertising the most popular methods used currently to increase sales,” said Carla Ooyen, director of market research for NBJ. “Most retailers surveyed are planning some expansion of their natural product offerings over the next year.”

To reach out to customers and increase sales, retailers reported using sales and specials as their top action. This was followed by more in-store demos and then local advertising and store events tying for third place.

The survey also found that ensuring the quality and safety of dietary supplements for consumers is a priority for retailers. Close to 70 percent of retailers review supplement manufacturer’s paperwork related to Good Manufacturing Practices and Food and Drug Administration audits. That said, when asked if new legislation should be passed that would increase the legal responsibility of retailers to sell only safe and legally produced dietary supplements, almost 60 percent said no.

More than half of respondents reported that shoppers are purchasing the same amount of organic products as before the recession. This may reflect that the majority of retailers surveyed were natural products retailers whose customer base has been shown to remain more loyal to organics than mass’s during the downturn.

The survey findings were based on responses from almost 300 retailers consisting of 84 percent natural products, health food or vitamin mineral supplements stores and the remaining 16 percent consisting of mass.

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