How should grocers prepare for a possible pandemic stockpiling redux?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the bi-monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
New research by Acosta suggests 53 percent of shoppers plan to stock up on groceries if another pandemic shutdown occurs.
“As COVID cases continue to rise, most shoppers believe we’re headed for another shutdown and plan to respond accordingly, so retailers should be prepared for a new surge in stocking up,” said Darian Pickett, CEO of North American sales at Acosta, in a statement.
Acosta’s tenth round of COVID-19 research revealed:
- Sixty-seven percent of shoppers think another shutdown is extremely or somewhat likely to occur.
- Thirty-eight percent of shoppers stocked up at the start of the pandemic and plan to stock up again.
- Fifteen percent of shoppers did not stock up at the start but plan to stock up this time.
- Seventeen percent of shoppers stocked up at the start but won’t this time.
- Twenty-four percent of shoppers did not stock up at the start and also won’t this time.
Commenting on Acosta’s research, James Tenser, principal of VSN Strategies and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, said grocery suppliers in many categories were caught flat-footed by the panic shopping in March and April, depleting four months of supply chain inventory in a couple of weeks.
“Shoppers naturally interpreted shelf voids as an urgency to stock up more. In response, many brands elected to concentrate manufacturing and distribution on the highest-demand SKUs, while pulling back on promotions,” he said.
Mr. Tenser believes some soul-searching is now underway for trading partners over what space and assortment plans will look like and how promotion dollars should be invested with another potential stock up.
“Manufacturers of shelf-stable products will load their warehouses to the extent possible,” said Mr. Tenser. “The boom in supermarket sales and digital ordering has been challenging, but it also reveals considerable sales opportunity. You can’t sell what you don’t have. The tricky question is, how aggressive should they be? Excess inventory adds expense, in terms of cost of capital, storage, shrink and markdowns. CPGs need to keep sharp eyes on consumer demand and use best-available forecasting tools.”
- Shoppers to Stock Up on Groceries if Another Shutdown Occurs – CPGmatters
- Acosta Finds More Than Half of Shoppers Plan to Stock Up on Groceries if Another Shutdown Occurs – Acosta
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What lessons should grocers and CPG brands take away from the first pandemic stock-up about preparing for another possible wave of shutdowns? Will the bigger hurdle be improving in-stock levels or discouraging hoarding behavior?