The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
The recent ending of SNAP emergency allotments is creating a more than $46 billion gap in consumer spending that grocers need to know how to navigate, according to a new report from consumer insights and data firm Numerator.
With that spending gap estimated to impact 41 million SNAP recipients as well as brands and retailers in the year ahead, Numerator explored how SNAP consumers are responding already to the reduction in their benefits.
In April, SNAP respondents said they were more likely to switch to a cheaper brand, buy more private brands, purchase smaller package sizes and buy less meat and fresh produce than in comparison to February. They are less likely to stock up during a sale last month than in February.
Judging from Numerator’s findings, it appears private brands are an area where grocers are winning SNAP dollars as consumers seek to make their allotted funds go further.
Grocery categories are also feeling the impact of SNAP emergency allotments ending. Numerator noted that all of the categories it looked at recorded unit volume declines that were faster among SNAP recipients than non-recipients. The categories with the largest gap between SNAP recipients and non-recipients included shelf stable meals (SNAP recipients down 21% in March 2023 compared to prior year), meats (down 18%), frozen foods (down 16%) and herbs & spices (down 15%).
This reduction in SNAP consumers’ spending power comes at a time when ongoing high inflation has already squeezed shoppers’ wallets. Nearly two-thirds (58%) of SNAP recipients claim that their benefits last for two weeks — up 17 percentage points from those who said the same in September, the research firm found. That finding indicates grocers will need to be especially sensitive to SNAP consumers’ spending capabilities.
Numerator stressed that branded and retailers will need to deepen their understanding of how to appeal to SNAP consumers.
“Brands and retailers should optimize existing promotions and timing more strategically to aid SNAP recipients, as well as consider promoting online shopping options to alleviate the financial burden of rising gas prices and discretionary expenses on this group,” it said in the report.
Lidl’s new NYC digs
The discount grocer’s new store in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood spans 23,000 square feet and is situated at the base of an affordable housing development, according to the Commercial Observer.
The real estate publication noted that a requirement for snagging this location was that the grocery option be a low-cost supermarket. Developer MAG Partners made a deal with the location’s owner, who is on the board of the neighboring housing cooperative.
Located at 335 Eighth Ave., this will be Lidl’s second Manhattan location after opening in Harlem in February 2022.
New partnership for Mercatus and Eagle Eye
The e-commerce solution provider and global digital marketing technology company are aiming to assist grocery companies in bringing shoppers more personalized and targeted digital promotions, according to a Tuesday announcement.
With the technology, grocers will be able to create tailored online shopping experiences while also receiving real-time customer data. The combination of Mercatus’ platform and Eagle Eye’s technology establishes a unified, data-driven e-commerce solution that gives grocery companies insights into their shoppers, per the announcement.
Meijer looks for partners to boost new private label
To expand its Frederik’s by Meijer private label line, the grocery company is seeking out food manufacturers from around the world, according to a Tuesday press release.
Meijer is aiming to add products that fall under roughly a dozen categories, including cocktail mixers, coffee, sauces, soup, baking chips, refrigerated cookie dough, frozen desserts and bakery cookies, the press release lists. The grocer adds that vendors producing any food category product are welcome to apply.
Potential vendors are required to offer “retail-ready products” produced in a facility that passes third-party GFSI audits as well as have ingredient panels that comply with FDA and USDA regulations. The grocer is looking for goods with “superior flavor and high-quality ingredients,” the announcement notes.
That’s the overall satisfaction score (out of five points) that consumers gave for online shopping at supermarkets, according to new findings from The Feedback Group. That score outranked the ones that Amazon (4.3), mass merchants (4.26) and discounters (4.11) received, per research based on 1,000 surveyed online food shoppers. Dollar stores received the lowest score, at 3.9.
While the survey results highlighted that supermarkets’ online efforts are paying off, respondents’ average scores for product availability, personalization efforts and other areas show supermarkets still have work to do to win over shoppers — especially younger ones.
The latest retail sales figures
How did grocery sales fare in April? We’ll find out Tuesday when the U.S. Census Bureau releases the newest retail sales stats.
Target and Walmart report earnings
Target is set to report its earnings on Wednesday, followed by Walmart on Thursday. The impact of inflation on consumers, the end of SNAP emergency allotments and omnichannel innovation are all things we’ll be listening for.
Content warning: disgusting behavior
A behavior that spread across social media in 2020 has now, unfortunately, resurfaced. A couple went viral on social media this week for reportedly licking ice cream in the grocery store and putting it back in the freezer case. While the video was deleted from the original creator’s account, the internet is forever and the actions of the couple have gained widespread attention — including police who are investigating, TMZ reported. With locked cases becoming a more popular security measure in retail locations, including grocery stores, it makes you wonder if the freezer aisle needs increased security, too.