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Small is beautiful

There has been much written about the demise of the grocery industry as we knew it, due to various major incidents in the past year, notably Tesco and the great accounting scandal. In addition, food shopping trends seem to be changing at an unprecedented rate.

From the time in the 1970s when out-of-town superstores became the new reality, we seem to have completed a total volte-face to shopping little and often, due to eating out more often and shopping for commoditised products online. In addition, due to rising food prices, consumers are becoming more careful with their purchasing and savvy is the new snob. As a result, the likes of Aldi with streamlined product ranges, combining good price with quality are winning out above the huge, overwhelming and often overfilled supermarket shelves of the mid-range traditionalists (Sainsbury’s and Tesco). As someone recently commented to me, “If you’ve got Aldi for your basics and M&S for the posh stuff, why would you need anything else?”

So, what does the future hold for the industry this year and beyond? Delivery of good quality and on-time online shopping is clearly essential, as is the thought given to size and range of the remaining supermarkets. We should see over the coming years a number of warehouse-sized properties released back to UK Housing Plc as these spaces become more economically unviable and irrelevant.

Liz Sinclair is the Principal for Consumer, Retail & Technology at Interim Partners.

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