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Grocers' Most Pressing Labor Issues: Attracting, Retaining Talent

Which labor issues will be the most urgent for grocers in 2019 and beyond? Progressive Grocer asked experts for their insights, and their responses were similar: getting the right people for the jobs that need to be done, and then keeping them at the company. “While attracting, developing and retaining talent are all important, attracting talent will be the most pressing issue,” stresses Margi Prueitt, executive director of the Produce Marketing Association’s Center for Growing Talent, in Newark, Del. “Baby Boomers are retiring in droves, and it will take an aggressive recruiting effort to replace them. And bringing three-plus generations together in the workplace is even more complex!”

Pardon the Disruption: Micro markets could be a huge opportunity for grocers

Grocers are building smaller and smaller stores these days, but what if they went really small? Last week, Kroger announced it had tucked a grocery department inside a Walgreens store in northern Kentucky. Stocked with more than 2,000 items, including fresh produce and cold cuts, this "Kroger Express" mini market is one of a handful the grocer plans to open over the next few months inside Walgreens locations near its Cincinnati headquarters. If the locations prove successful, a lot more people will be buying meal kits and bananas at the same place they buy cold medicine.

Retail food prices projected to rise

Food prices are on their way up at the grocery store this year, according to projections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA Economic Research Service forecasts the food-at-home consumer price index (CPI) to rise 1% to 2% in 2019. Though that’s higher than the 0% to 1% uptick estimated for 2018, the increase expected for 2019 would mark the fourth straight year of deflating or lower-than-average inflating retail food prices, the agency noted in its Food Price Outlook 2018-19 report. The gain also would be less than the 20-year historical average of 2.1%.

2019 Outlook: The Year Grocers Connect Everyday Activity and Ecommerce

The year 2018 was when some of the nation’s top grocers really began to dip their toes in the waters of contextual commerce — the concept of supermarkets’ making it possible to purchase products through everyday activities. For instance: Kroger launched voice-assistant ordering across a number of its banners; Amazon and Whole Foods got “plugged in” to smart ovens; and Walmart, Albertsons and other grocers began connecting their ecommerce programs with shoppable recipes. So it’s right to expect that as food retailers continue to invest further in technology and their omnichannel strategies, 2019 will be a very big year for contextual commerce.

2019 Outlook: The Year Grocers Bring Endless Aisles In-Store

Retailers are feverish about creating their point of differentiation and an improved in-store experience. But for shoppers, delightful design and warm hospitality are diminished when the products they seek aren’t on the shelves, either due to dreaded out-of-stocks or because slow-moving items were removed. Endless aisles online are becoming the norm, with shoppers blissfully unaware that items they obtain through a retailer’s website might not be items that retailers typically carry and are delivered by a third-party vendor. Grocery isn’t immune from the new age of 24/7 shopping and the expectation of next-day — or less — delivery, and it’s increasingly viewed as their opportunity to offer one-stop shopping.
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