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The Changing Grocery Store + Shopper

The Changing Grocery Store + Shopper

Krystal Paisley

August 29, 2017

The grocery shopping experience has changed over the last few years and continues to evolve. Grocery stores are finding new ways to appeal to customers through layout, design and brand focus. ms consultants was featured in Commercial Architecture Magazine’s Food Shopping Redefined. ms grocery expert and program manager, Jason Longbrake, weighed in.


The traditional stock up trip is no longer a tradition. Shopping trips vary from quick trip to the occasional stock-up trip and everything in between. Shoppers are often trading in their filled shopping carts for a basket with just a few items. Shoppers tend to make multiple trips to the store each week, and grocers have adapted.


Consumers have also shifted towards healthier eating. Specific diets, such as organic and gluten-free, and public awareness of additives, excess sugar, etc., has launched a new era of food purchasing in the typical grocery store.


Jason adds, “The products in the store have evolved as consumers have trended toward healthier eating and away from frozen foods.”


Another key feature is specialization. It is critical that grocers understand the consumer and the market they’re serving to identify the best store type.


“The key is specialization and understanding your consumer,” according to Jason. “The specialization comes in once you dive past the fundamentals of a successful grocery store. What is the market? Urban, suburban, rural? Large ethnic or cultural population groups? What are your demographics?” he asked.


With the changes in trip types and healthier eating, grocery store layouts have adapted to meet the need.


This shift in store layout is driven by the shift in customer trip types. More shoppers are looking for grab and go convenience for a few items. Convenience stores, now offering more fresh and prepared food options, are capturing these convenience-seeking shoppers. To remain competitive, grocery stores have been forced to adapt.


Jason has seen the change in grocery store clients.  “The produce selection has moved to the front of the store in nearly every grocery in the country. Flowers and bakeries are also taking center stage, focusing on the importance of the sensory experience. The core staples of the grocery world, like milk and eggs, still find themselves at the rear of most stores, drawing consumers through the heart of the store. But even this fundamental of the grocery layout has been challenged as grocers seek to provide more staples with quick-trip options at the front of the store.”


Additionally, the focus on healthier foods has decreased freezer space in many grocery stores. “As consumers have trended toward healthy eating, store layouts have also evolved,” Jason says. “Oversized freezers are now the dinosaurs of the grocery world. The trend from frozen to fresh has resulted in grocers reducing their frozen selections up to 50%.”


A grocery store is no longer just a grocery store. Many grocery stores have become a complete experience. When a consumer isn’t looking for the easy and convenient grab-and-go, he or she is looking for additional offerings and conveniences.


Jason says, “Grocery stores have become more than just a place to stock up on food for the week. Along with in-store dining and entertainment, grocers partner with retail banks, coffee shops, pharmacies, and other conveniences. These additional offerings give consumers more reasons to go to the grocery store with the added convenience of a one-stop-shop. These additional services also give the grocers an opportunity to sell higher markup goods and services. The in-store dining and take-and-bake type meals are essential additions to large grocers who are catering to consumers who are busier than ever.”


Read more in Commercial Architecture Magazine’s Food Shopping Redefined.


Ready to start your next grocery project? Contact Jason Longbrake at