The difference in operating temperatures between chillers and freezers in multiple grocers is essential to present the products inside in the best possible condition, and hence to be expected. But in many stores there’s another big difference between chilled and frozen areas, which retailers can do something about – the difference in the level of footfall and shopper visits.

Chilled cabinets’ warmer temperatures mean they are inevitably more welcoming to shoppers than the frozen section. Freezers can be uninviting, to say the least. But that can all be put right, with a combination of the right freezer cabinets that allow stock to be seen clearly and stimulate purchase, and a commitment from store management to care for the freezer section lovingly and keep it fully stocked and well merchandised.

A further reason for multiple grocers to focus their merchandising energy on the freezer section is that frozen foods have enjoyed something of a revival in interest recently. A major factor here is that, in our frosty economic climate, frozen foods offer cash-strapped consumers a lifeline to healthy eating on a budget.

By taking these straightforward steps, retailers can revive their frozen sections and make them part of the store shoppers visit voluntarily to see what’s new, rather than return there reluctantly to replenish essentials.

As well as maximizing merchandising effort and keeping chillers and freezers topped up, clean and attractive, the other retail refrigeration imperative is energy efficiency. Refrigeration is one of the major energy uses in grocery stores, and as a topic has never been hotter. The cold facts about fridges and chillers are well known: supermarkets consume around five percent of the UK’s total energy consumption, and over half this energy is used by the store’s refrigeration. It’s all the more reason then for stores to focus on maximizing energy efficiencies.

Help is at hand from the refrigeration industry body, the British Refrigeration Association, which brought out a Refrigeration Road Map in 2010. Developed in hand with the Carbon Trust, this introduces the main energy saving opportunities for refrigeration use in retail sector and shows how simple actions can save energy use, cut costs and increase profit margins.

These days the major retailers are working closely with the leading refrigeration suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints and increase energy efficiency. The ongoing refrigeration rethink adds up to a major challenge for the supply chain, in which everyone involved needs to meet the demands for higher engineering standards in refrigeration and better availability of equipment. At the same time it presents those refrigeration manufacturers who measure up with a wonderful sales opportunity.

The Grocery Trader

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