Welcome to the May Grocery Trader. It’s official: we now face a double dip recession. Even though the first quarter decline was only 0.2%, the effect is likely to dampen consumer confidence and make shoppers rein in spending even more. The multiples will increase the pressure on their teams to turn in a winning performance, to ensure the goods are there for those shoppers with money left to buy them.  

As many wise people in the industry have said in the last few years, things have been tough, but consumers still go on shopping and the goods still have to be delivered, which means keeping up investment in the back of store. As the stories in our quarterly Back of Store feature show, the major retailers are continuing to invest in infrastructure and services.

Multi-channel retailing, subject of another feature in this issue, is a current buzzword, but isn’t exactly an overnight sensation. Since the late nineties we’ve seen an ongoing shift from pure bricks and mortar retailing to consumers shopping around the clock in store and online. Online sales now represent 3.2% of total grocery retail business.  With the leading grocers now operating superstores, convenience format outlets and forecourts as well as on-line, brand-loyal consumers have the facility to stay faithful to the same retailer in every channel and add to the points on their loyalty card. Meanwhile with many retail managers still thinking of the different parts of their business in separate silos, these companies need to reinvent themselves as true multi-channel enterprises, seamlessly interacting with customers across the channels and with integrated operating systems and processes to match. Now there’s something to work towards.

Managing multi-channel businesses needs Class A information. In this issue we interview Informance, a QlikView Elite Solution Provider with a real understanding of the food, beverage and grocery industries, and customers including Aimia, Bakkavör, Del Monte, Lakeland Dairies, Musgrave, Moy Park and Tayto. Informance’s QlikView Business Discovery platform gives users a deeper insight into the effectiveness of their business and its products and customers. QlikView organisations can analyse trends to capture consumer loyalty, build and manage their supply chain and reduce time-to-market, to maximise sales, margins and ROI.

Finally, as our Barbeque feature confirms, there’s nothing like a barbecue on a rainy day to remind you you’re in Britain and it’s summer time. If the economy stays flat, we can expect a continuation of the trend for staying in and entertaining at home instead of going out, which has been supporting recent BBQ growth. And if things pick up, people will spend more on barbies, so it’s good news all round.

Have a good month, and let’s hope the sun returns and stays out for the summer!

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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