Who’s Going to Start the Revolution?

Discussion
Nov 20, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Ryan Mathews laments in an editorial on the Grocery Headquarters Web site, “It seems all but unthinkable that as we enter the 21st century, we can’t come up with a better
retail concept than more one-stop shopping.”

“There have been several revolutions during the past century of American food retailing ” he adds. “The most profound was the advent of self-service retailing. Equally important
was the move toward mall-based, suburban retail centers. Finally, Wal-Mart launched its own revolution by enfranchising lower-income shoppers. Each of these retail revolutions
rode the crest of social change rather than lead it.”

Another social revolution, this one shaped by uncertain economic conditions, aging baby boomers, growing ethnic populations, increased security concerns and other factors will
demand a retail response other than building more supercenters, argues Mr. Mathews.

“We’re ready for another revolution,” he writes, “but we’re short of revolutionaries.”

Moderator’s Comment: Do you agree with Ryan Mathews’ contention that another grocery format is needed to meet the needs of the new America? Do you have
a vision for such a format?

The answer probably isn’t in a single-format. With a population as fragmented as ours, smaller stores focused on the needs of specific groups will become
a necessity. Personally, we’d like a store that combines the technology of Metro’s Extra Future Store with a Trader Joe’s-like limited assortment and Wegman’s prepared foods.
[George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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