Trend Watch: Shifting Shopping Patterns

Trend Watch: Shifting Shopping Patterns

February 16, 2022
Annette Maggi
TrendsBusiness Skills

By RDBA Executive Director Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

The ongoing pandemic, shift to online shopping, product shortages, and supply chain issues impact departments of the grocery store in different ways. This article explores these departmental impacts.

Center Store

We all know that shoppers have shifted their buying habit patterns. They buy more online and are returning to stores in uneven patterns, making it difficult to manage inventory planning in the same way as was historically done. And we don’t know if the new shopping patterns have normalized yet. Center store is unique in that products are shelf-stable and prepackaged. Customers aren’t necessarily concerned about picking out their own items and these dry grocery items are easy to store for a longer time in the home pantry. For these reasons, auto-replenishment and “pantry building” online orders are more likely for center store categories. Looking towards the future, center style aisles could hold a smaller footprint than they do today.

  • Retail RD Opportunity: Partner internally to understand the most common center store items purchased through e-commerce. Discuss ways to automate the process of suggesting healthier alternatives to these options during the consumer online shopping experience. Build RD-curated bundles based on pantry staples that can easily be ordered online, including recipes using these ingredients.

Fresh Departments

The need to check the firmness of produce items or to assess the meat, poultry and seafood items will continue to draw people into stores, and with smaller-sized center store sections in the future, fresh departments have room to expand.

  • Retail RD Opportunity: Consider health and wellbeing experiential uses of opening space. What big idea has been rumbling around in your mind? A new way to merchandise healthy living solutions? Or a pop-up station of the RD’s new favorite BFY items now in store? Now is the time to pitch your idea to leadership, especially if it’s focused on keeping the shopper coming into the stores for fresh.

Technology Expansion

Labor shortages are requiring retailers to expand use of technology in new ways. The good news is that younger generations are much more tech-savvy and quickly pick up on how to use tools and resources.

  • Retail RD Opportunity: Set a strategy goal related to how you are leveraging in-store staff to promote retail RD programs and services. Consider partnering with your HR department on the addition of your area into employee e-learning systems. Are there texting tools you can adopt to give in-store staff updates in live time?

Retail dietitians have proven their adaptability over the past two years and as the grocery experience continues to evolve, keeping your eye on new ideas and opportunities will continue to drive your success at retail.