Publix decides the time is right for an experiential, two-story concept
Popular regional grocer Publix has been expanding its footprint northward for a number of years. With its new pilot store, management is indicating plans to expand its individual stores vertically, as well.
Publix has opened a two-story test concept store in Tampa, according to Progressive Grocer. The store features 48,000 square feet dedicated to grocery, a deli island and a cooking school kiosk. No self-serve food bars are present, but Publix designed an area showcasing hot and cold prepared foods.
The front of the store features a permanent staging area for online orders, and there is a dining area upstairs on the second floor. Outside, the store features two areas for online order pickup and a drive-thru pharmacy.
The much larger store marks a change from the grocer’s recent strategy, which has consisted of experimenting with sub-30,000 square foot store locations.
Multi-floor grocery stores with restaurants, bars, extensive food and salad bars and other experiential elements grew popular in the last decade, with higher-end grocers like Whole Foods developing a reputation for store experiences that combined grocery shopping and entertainment. The popularity of such concepts has, however, diminished due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Publix has continued to post a high customer satisfaction rating during the pandemic. In October’s American Customer Service Index (ACSI) Special COVID-19 Retail Study, Publix ranked alongside Costco with a score of 83 in customer satisfaction, below only Wegmans and Trader Joe’s.
Despite concerns over contagion keeping customers from interacting fully with experiential grocery stores the way they did in pre-pandemic times, Publix is not the only grocer to look at launching larger concepts during the pandemic.
Discount grocer Aldi in early December opened a 25,000 square-foot store in Philadelphia, much larger than the typical 16,400 square-foot location.
Nor has the pandemic discouraged some grocers from looking toward an experiential future. In May, Mariano’s founder Bob Mariano announced plans to open a “next-gen” grocery store in March 2021. The store, prospectively named Dom’s Market & Kitchen, will feature open food prep areas, wine tasting classes and areas for both take-out and in-store dining.
- EXCLUSIVE: Publix Debuts New Prototype in Tampa – Progressive Grocer
- Amazon Falters During COVID-19, While Costco, Etsy, and Nordstrom Take the Internet Retail Crown, ACSI Data Show – American Customer Satisfaction Index
- Is a new store concept the start of something bigger for Aldi? – RetailWire
- Grand Opening – Aldi
- Bob Mariano has plans to create a next-gen grocery store – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will experiential grocery store concepts make a strong comeback in the years ahead? Does Publix’s test concept appear to have made the necessary adjustments to account for increased online buying, pick-up and other COVID-influenced behaviors?