How Grocery Stores Can Make the Most of the Holiday Season

June 13, 2019

With the holiday season in full swing, shoppers are making more trips to the grocery store to stock up on food for parties, guests and gifts. While this can be quite a hectic time of year for supermarkets, it can also be the perfect time to adopt new strategies that can enhance the customer experience and drive stronger sales and store loyalty even after the holiday rush dies down.

Phononic recently conducted a survey of 2,000 U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 to 64 to uncover consumer food shopping habits as they relate to loyalty and product preferences, especially during the busy holiday season. What did we find out? That 43 percent of respondents still do most of their shopping at traditional grocery stores and today’s shoppers are loyal to their favorite supermarkets.

By rethinking features like in-store layout, technology, product stocking and placement, grocers can retain the loyal customers they have today and expand their customer base. Here are three considerations for supermarkets that want to boost sales through the holiday season and beyond:

1. Creativity and convenience are imperative during the holidays. When it comes to frequency, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) said they go grocery shopping once a week, and just under a fourth (24 percent) go 2-3 times a week. But during the holidays, some consumers switch things up. More than a third make several trips to different stores, while 23 percent still do all their shopping in one store.

During the holiday season, consumers are willing to shift away from their typical patterns – presumably because they’re rushed and may be buying items they don’t buy regularly buy throughout the year. This presents an opportunity for retailers to delight new customers and earn their repeat business with creative and convenient options. In the survey, respondents said they want retailers to stock more of the following: popular items at checkout (26 percent), premade holiday meals (24 percent) and meal kits (22 percent).

2. People want more produce in more places. Fresh produce (25 percent) topped the list of the six items consumers would most like to see at the checkout counter during the holiday season – even beating out alcohol, which ranked third at 17 percent. This is a new opportunity for retailers who typically feature items like candy, sodas, magazines and batteries for impulse checkout purchases. Clearly, they’ll need to change their in-store layouts and adopt new technologies that enable the storage of more produce throughout the store, including at the checkout line.

3. Better product placement can help relieve some of the holiday shopping stress. When asked about the most annoying aspect of the holiday food shopping experience, a total of 57 percent ranked crowds as their biggest irritant, followed by not being able to find items they need (22 percent) and low stock on popular items (20 percent). More than half (55 percent) of consumers feel grocery retailers can make the holidays easier by grouping holiday items in one area of the store. That’s an easy fix if you’re talking about pairing holiday containers with alcohol or boxed holiday meal mixes. But if you’re grouping perishable items outside of climate-controlled sections of the store, you’ll need to investigate options for distributed cooling.

RELATED READ: Three Reasons Why Grocery Shoppers Prefer Distributed Refrigeration

From the desire for more fresh options at checkout to displays that group perishable holiday items, there’s a clear need for more distributed cooling in grocery stores. Smaller refrigeration units at the checkout counter give customers more access to the healthy produce and convenience options they prefer. And with distributed cooling units set up across the store, shoppers can find paired and similar products together, allowing them to shave time off their shopping trips and also consider purchases they might not otherwise make.

To see the complete survey results and discover more opportunities to enhance the customer experience this holiday season, check out Phononic’s The State of Grocery Retail Report.