People are passionate about groceries. Photo by Tania Savayan/lohud
What to do about the grocery buzz? That was the question on the table this fall as lohud editors and reporters gathered to discuss the coverage of A&P’s bankruptcy and its aftermath. Stories on the chain’s disruptive exit from the market consistently topped the digital metrics we use to track performance on lohud.
Clearly, our community was gripped by the story. Not only was traffic up significantly on our website and on our mobile products, but the A&P saga also was selling newspapers, generating letters to the editor and social media chatter, and bringing in tips from sources.
Only minutes into our discussion we began trading stories about where we shop, how we shop, when we shop, what we buy, what we love and what we wish were different about the local grocery experience. Based on our own energy and strong opinions, we suspected there was more to tell than a good business story.
We sent reporters Hoa Nguyen and Peter D. Kramer and photographer Tania Savayan into the community to listen. For two months, they followed the story, interviewing more than 100 people: shoppers and supermarket analysts, store owners and deli guys. “Groceries.” is a special report on the shifting supermarket landscape in the wake of the A&P bankruptcy, a deep dive into the emotions, strategies and opinions our neighbors associate with that trip to the market.
In one of Tania’s videos you’ll get a good sense of the immediate excitement we found across generations when she engaged shoppers on the topic.
From Pete’s piece on the strategy behind supermarket layouts you’ll learn why the milk is in the back of the store and why the flowers and baked goods are up front. Pete also writes about cult stores like Wegmans and Trader Joe’s, and the various “channels” we use for shopping. And you’ll want to be sure to take his quiz to learn which grocery store you are. Pete will also help you learn about the link between Blockbuster video and rotisserie chicken.
Hoa, whose coverage of the A&P bankruptcy has been outstanding, will help you better understand the region’s real estate market for supermarket sites and the battle for the space left behind by A&P. She also explores supermarket deserts – areas underserved by neighborhood grocery stores – and ethnic markets in our region.
Hoa’s reporting shows the U.S. grocery industry has grown about 1 percent over the past five years as the economy has strengthened. Still, as the grocery space continues to fragment, the marketplace for your shopping dollars has remained extremely competitive.
Millennials, especially, are far less likely than their predecessors to loyally shop at the same supermarket. Grocers, including various brands in the Lower Hudson Valley, are strategizing accordingly.