Welcome to the January Grocery Trader. It’s back to reality once again, and as the Christmas and New Year euphoria ebbs away, many consumers are actively looking for opportunities to beat the winter blues, such as Big Nights In. So multiple grocers need to keep their food, drink and other fixtures with a link to home entertaining well stocked, as our feature argues.

We’ve also got our Baby & Kids feature in this issue. As parents get busier, anything that makes it easier to shop for essentials for babies and kids is appreciated, from cheaper nappies in store to a full scale on line baby and toddler equipment service.

Back to Big Nights In, and you don’t have to be Scottish to enjoy Burns Night on Friday 25 January. In these austere times, the Chancellor would love us to stay up and toast midnight on Thursday 31st, deadline for online self-assessment tax returns and due taxes! In February there’s that Great American festival, Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and Pancake Day, aka Mardi Gras. But don’t stop there. As we all know, any time is good for a party…

Statistically most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned after the third week. That said, we’d like to suggest a few resolutions for the people that run our major multiples to consider in 2013:

Take multi-channel retailing seriously – if the product’s on the web site, why isn’t one in store so customers can see it and touch it, before they buy on line? They might even end up buying it there and then. Encourage phone staff to be more helpful about returning goods bought on line, and make it clear you can take them to the local store.

Be fairer to suppliers – encourage small suppliers by giving them easier access to buyers for those vital first conversations. Hold seminars for would be suppliers, to let them know more about what your company expects. And pay small suppliers sooner when they’re lucky enough to get listings!

Make social media work better – let the CEO send their own tweets and write their own blog. Give back to the community – encourage managers to give local welfare charities food that’s out of date but is still ok, don’t chuck it out. Support the local community and local charities in other ways as far as possible.

Encourage store staff to look out for and support elderly and disabled shoppers who need help. Have wheelchairs available for people who need them in their visit. And do more about the store’s environment –a few skips in the shoppers’ car park is just the start.

If you’re a big retailer and you’d like to tell us what you’re doing in these areas to make a difference, we’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, have a successful 2013!

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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