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March 24, 2021

The Evolution of Grocery Shopping

The supermarket became a staple of American life once the first Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tenn. in 1916. Ever since, shoppers have searched their aisles in a quest to fill their pantries without overpaying. And we’ve seen many changes in grocery stores as shopping habits change.

From the increase of product offerings to the rise of online ordering, here’s how local supermarkets have changed over the past several decades.

The supermarket became a staple of American life once the first Piggly Wiggly opened in Memphis, Tenn. in 1916. Ever since, shoppers have searched their aisles in a quest to fill their pantries without overpaying. And we’ve seen many changes in grocery stores as shopping habits change. From the increase of product offerings to the rise of online ordering, here’s how local supermarkets have changed over the past several decades.

More Products to Choose From

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of boxed cereals or salad dressings on the shelves, you’re not alone. Grocery shoppers have many more products to choose from than they did in decades past, up from an average of just under 9,000 products in the mid 1970s to almost 50,000 in 2017, according to industry executives.

Much of that is attributed to new products on the market, such as energy drinks, bottled teas and specialty drinks like Kombucha, which few could have imagined would be given their own refrigerated cases. Those new products also brought new challenges to shelf maintenance. Make product selection easier for customers and drive higher sales with the SpaceDriver® II pusher display system from Retail Space Solutions, which is designed to manage bottled and canned products with ease, keeping products organized all day long. SpaceDriver II creates attractive, front-facing displays with its patented controlled-pusher movement, making it a practical solution to organize bottled products.

Local, Local, Local

Shoppers are far more likely to see locally grown or sourced products at supermarkets today than they did 50 years ago, when local produce and other foods were almost exclusively found at roadside stands and farmers markets. It’s true that consumer priorities are shifting, and grocers around the world are changing their product offering to meet the demand for locally-sourced foods.

More Food Comes Ready to Eat

Though the 1970s brought the continued rise of frozen foods and other convenience products, in recent years there has been significant growth in grocery stores offering prepared and ready-to-eat meals. That trend spiked in 2020, and it’s easy to see why – with more consumers eating at home during the pandemic, foods like pre-packaged salads and produce draw in shoppers who want to make healthy food choices without time to wash and cut vegetables.

The SpaceGrid® II pusher display system from Retail Space Solutions is the key to fresh and attractive packaged-produce displays. Compatible with more than 97% of coolers, these pusher systems are designed to keep shelves organized and packaged-produce front-faced. Additionally, the patented channel system built into the trays is designed to allow refrigerated air to flow freely below the packages to help maintain freshness.

Curbside Pickup Becomes the Norm

While some shoppers may remember a time when grocery clerks eagerly wheeled groceries out to their cars, that service has largely faded away. Its modern counterpart, however, doesn’t even require you to get out of your car. Grocery stores are going all in on BOPIS services — that is, buy online, pick up in-store. A year ago, 81% of consumers had never bought groceries online, but these services have grown significantly during the pandemic with online grocery delivery and pickup sales reaching a peak of $7.2 billion in June of 2020.

After a year of record-setting sales in the grocery industry due to the pandemic — including periods of stock-up shopping, the increase in meals at home and the explosion of safe and convenient online services such as curbside pickup — retailers have seen major changes to consumer grocery shopping behavior along the way. The rollout of vaccines and the reopening of many businesses could cause customers to return to previous shopping habits – but some new shopping trends may be here to stay.

For more information on display solutions from Retail Space Solutions, visit www.retailspacesolutions.com or call 1-800-279-5291.