Navigating COVID-19 and the Path Ahead
New Opportunities for Center Store Growth in the Pandemic Era and Beyond
The Big Reset
The global pandemic has upended the way people eat and shop.
The center store has experienced strong interest and sales, starting in March and continuing.
Grocers need to stay agile amid competition from other channels, according to IRI’s latest COVID-19 Report.
front and center
Customers shop the center store for adequate supplies during a time of uncertainty.
Center store trips jumped
growth during March
COVID-19-DRIVEN CATEGORY GROWTH
Center store winners:
and breakfast categories
are realizing steady growth
New Paths for Growth in this Shared Journey
Many new and former customers have returned to grocery shopping and to certain brands in the wake of shutdowns/restrictions.
An Expanded Audience
new buyers for one national frozen entrée brand
new buyers for a dominant soup brand
new buyers for an iconic boxed pasta company
Retain these shoppers through
Beyond providing basics like hand sanitizer and thermometers, IRI’s COVID-19 report identified other opportunities to reach health-minded shoppers.
Demand is strong for functional benefits in ingredients and products.
Center store items addressing COVID-19 risk factors are performing strongly:
Sizing Up Your Shoppers
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
Many shoppers seek
Center store product prices increased an average of 6.5% during COVID-19 – and consumers noticed.
What about price?
have grown during COVID-19, as shoppers try save money, or face OOS on their preferred brands.
organic and natural private label products
of store brand natural/organic buyers are new
Many turned to private label and started doing price comparisons.
Expect the expecting: experts say this pandemic will likely result in a baby boom.
The Coming Boom
Plan ahead for this growing shopper segment with solutions for pregnancy and infancy. Keep an eye on the next chapter of parent and family buying behaviors.
Working from home is the new normal, and so is eating at home all day.
The New Lunch Hour
Before the pandemic,
Following the pandemic,
But there is frustration with e-commerce:
Watch Other Channels
There may be a reset, but the channels are not preset. Shoppers are buying across the physical and online marketplace.
Keeping Your Share
Retailers should execute channel strategies to keep or attract people who shop a variety of retailers for different needs and occasions.
Compete with restaurant delivery through innovations in product, packaging and/or messaging.
small pack sizes
Trips per Buyer
% change vs. Year ago
% change vs. Year ago
total store Food & Beverage Center of store
store trips during the COVID-19 period
Center store achieved
Pregnancy kit sales are up
Products with sustainable messages are growing among shoppers concerned about the future:
Sustainability Matters, Too
say they are focusing more on their health
of consumers say they proactively take care of their physical and emotional health
say they are eating healthier
Products with immunity claims almost
2019 growth during the 8-week* COVID-19 period.
Hypertension support did
Diabetes support grew
Obesity support grew
of 2019 dollar sales in 15% of the weeks
never worked at home
5 or more days per week
4 days per week
2 days per week
3 days per week
Shoppers are comparing prices more often, as they buy more online while at home.
C-stores are fill-in locations with less travel and more quick trips.
16% of consumers have bought from local farmers
41% are interested in doing it in the future.
12% have bought from a restaurant wholesaler
E-commerce is trending higher than brick-and-mortar
21% said they couldn’t get a convenient delivery time
48% said their ordered items weren’t delivered due to changes in availability
more about IRI's report, “COVID-19 and Navigating the Path Ahead: Charting the Course for Continued Store Growth” or customize research by category or industry by emailing IRI@IRIworldwide.com.
to tide over their families
value sizes and family packs
BUT small households and those watching budgets look for
that meet their needs.
communications and offerings
in meal solutions as the market shifts.
mirror interest in health and value.
Address e-commerce issues with solutions:
Compete with farmers and restaurant wholesales by offering similar or better experiences.
Convey points of distinction with items that offer functional health benefits or large packs that can be stored in pantries.
• Click-and-collect expansions
• Adjusted resources for processing online orders in existing stores
• Enhanced partnerships with delivery companies
• Micro-warehouses within stores
• Added drive-up areas
62% of consumers said some items they wanted were not available to order online
19% of others are interested in trying it.
*8-week period is March 8 to April 26, 2020
Bars represent “consumers who agree with the statement: I have seen prices increase because of the coronavirus.”