the future of the grocery store

imgresThere was a short period of time when I was growing up that someone actually delivered milk to our back porch.  It did not last long but looking back that was pretty cool yet from a business perspective it is expensive and labor intensive.  Quickly afterward we purchased our dairy needs at the Giant, our local market.

I was in LA for a few days and saw that Gelson’s finally opened up their new big store on Lincoln.  I asked my brother and sister-in-law how it was.  They both replied, really big and empty of people.  So what is the future for grocery stores?

In NYC we are seeing grocery chains shut down but the reality for us is that I have shifted our shopping substantially over the past decade.  We buy all our meats from the butcher.  We buy all our vegetables and fruits from the vegetable/fruit market or the Greenmarket.  We get our breads from the baker.  The eggs can be bought at the butcher.  The ice cream comes from Phin & Phebes.  Truth is the only thing we get at the market is milk, yogurt and butter.  Very European way of shopping.

A few things will take place.  Groceries will get better at local products and understanding their consumer.  How Good, a company I am invested in, is working with stores to understand their data better and in turn be more profitable.  Groceries will have to get on the delivery bandwagon like a Blue Apron.  Many are using Instacart now but the costs are extremely high.  They will also have to create more online functions so that people can order and have everything ready to pick up when they swing by.

Grocery chains need to get creative.  The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market is a multi-faceted store.  You can buy your fish to bring home but you can also sit down and have a meal.  They don’t leave a square footage of that store unused.  They could do cooking classes in the evening.  Think about how when Barnes and Noble turned their bookstores into community places where people could eat, buy books, talk and collaborate.  They didn’t pivot again into the next but that concept could be an interesting one in groceries.  Appealing to the local community.

Food as an industry has made significant changes over the past decade from delivery services of ready made food to creating your own healthy menus to pre-chopped food with a recipe to make at home.  People want efficiency and they want to know what they are putting in their bodies.

There is a lot more competition in the grocery world.  The marketshare for large chains is dwindling.  Their demise creates a lot of wasted food.  I see opportunities all over the place.  Grocery in in the midst of a massive reinvention.  I really do believe that the grocery world will look a lot different in 5 years than it does today.