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Supermarket Disruption Has Begun

Thom Blischok says 30% of existing store chains will be consolidated by 2025.

It’s always a pleasure to listen to a trade show presenter who really knows his or her field inside  and out. Thom Blischok is one such presenter. He is chairman and CEO of The Dialogic Group LLC, based in Phoenix. The Dialogic Group is a team of visionary global strategists and futurists specializing in retail and consumer packaged goods. Their mission is to focus on and offer strategies for managing the tremendous change taking place in retail environments. Thom’s counsel has helped to transform industries in food, beverage and pharmaceuticals.

Dialogic Group

Thom Blischok

Blischok spoke at the recent Food Management Institute’s ES+D show for energy and store design, in Atlanta. His presentation focused on the disruption at work in the supermarket sector, and what store environments will become between now and 2025. He said the supermarket industry is going through a restructuring, and is experiencing radically changing shopper behavior, a digital juggernaut of online food shopping, a capital and profitability challenge, and real growth.


Some of these trends are at work right now, and many of you have probably seen them where you shop. The Walmart in my town now has a supermarket, and I often see more groceries being sold there than tennis shoes or Crock Pots. This is in addition to its in-store pharmacy, optician and tire store. I’m sure the Giant Eagle managers on the next block have taken notice.

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That grocery store there has become so popular that I have suggested to managers that the Walmart organization must establish separate checkout lanes IN THE GROCERY SECTION.

(And by the way, open up the "20 items or less" lane, which has been out of commission so people with fewer items use self-checkout. I don't use self-checkout since I am not a Walmart employee. I don't think they'll listen.)

Terr McIver

Today's Walmart: salad dressing with your sportswear?

The in-store trends Blischok described will have an immediate impact on both refrigeration and HVAC contractors, who will be called upon to apply their expertise in dealing with increasing comfort loads, and versatile case placement, in addition to refrigerant changes.

Here are Thom Blischok’s 12 supermarket trends for 2018-2025:
1. Further consolidation of the grocery market. About 30% percent of existing store chains will be gone by 2025.
2. The larger chains will get larger, and the smaller outlets will become more personalized in their service. “Today, it’s about designing for the experience: the sushi bar, cheese bar, wine bar or cooking school. Shoppers care about experience first, convenience second and price third,” Blischok said.
3. Discount grocers will continue to have regional impact.
4. We’ll see rapid growth in small format stores.
5. There will be increased impact of take-out foods and “food subscriptions.”
6. A battle will be fought over ‘click & collect’ and home delivery. “This will be a real live battleground,” Blischok said.
7. There will be more experimentation with “on-trend” stores.
8. You will see an explosion of culinary-based “groceraunts,” where more supermarkets will include soup-to-nuts restaurants.
9. There will be rapid growth of Hispanic-purposed stores.
10. Emergence of “Mall Marts.” That deserted Sears store in your neighborhood may become a grocery store in a mall, with other services and “pop-up” grocery outlets nearby.
11. Increase in Premium/Super Premium private labels. Costco,
for example, is now in the chicken farming business, and is raising antibiotic-free and cage-free poultry.
12. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence/MR to reduce operating costs. Robotics and AI will have more to do with the operation of stores than we’ve seen to date,” Blischok said.

Blischok said stores are hustling to make these trends a reality, because they’re being driven by the demands of Millennial shoppers, who today number 75.4 million and will reach 78 million by 2025.

“Millennials expect stores to offer seamless convenience,” Blischok said.

Watch for more about this topic in this space soon.

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