Manufacturing News / Columns
Editor's Note

Retail check: Blurred lines expanding in grocery shopping aisles

Retail categories continue to blur, according to emerging research.

A research survey conducted last fall by King Retail Solutions shows shoppers’ attitudes about why and where they shop for groceries are evolving. According to the study, “Traditional Retail Categories are Blurring,” the top five places to buy groceries that are not grocery stores are Target, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and Dollar General. When asked what makes them decide where to buy groceries, survey respondents listed cost first, followed by convenience and quality.

Last month, CVS announced that, starting October 1, it would no longer sell cigarettes and tobacco products in its stores. I knew this was a step in the right direction for consumer health, but I also wondered if it is a sign of more changes on the retail front. According to CVS Caremark’s CEO and president, the move is “the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health.”

I support helping people reduce or stop their consumption of cigarettes and tobacco products, and I applaud CVS’s plan to launch a national smoking cessation program. But I wonder if we on the brink of health-conscious retailers removing certain food and beverage items from their shelves.

Will the grocery aisles be their next focus? Most people would agree those aisles of candy, snacks, frozen treats and soft drinks aren’t doing any good for obese or diabetic individuals, for example. But where will retailers draw the line?

It looks like the opportunity for the food and beverage industry lies in continuing to produce healthy food, beverages and snacks.  And, for the industry to grow, it must introduce truly delicious, healthy alternatives to help reduce waistlines and improve nutrition.

The better health and nutrition message from all stakeholders is now loud and clear. Still, those grocery aisles of treats will never completely disappear, and the food and beverage industry must leave lots of room for consumers to make personal choices when shopping. The difficulty will be in finding the right balance of product offerings.  

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