Retailers expect consumers to spend cautiously this holiday season
In what is shaping up to be one of the bleakest holiday seasons in recent memory in terms of consumer spending, supermarket operators are focusing on price-oriented promotions in an appeal to thrifty shoppers.
“People are not going to quit eating, but there are a lot of ways to reduce your expenditures at the store,” said Al Plamann, president and chief executive officer, Unified Grocers, Los Angeles. “There's enough uncertainty out there that I would expect to see a real trend toward cautious buying.”
Although food retailers around the country interviewed by SN in the last two weeks said they still expect families to splurge on Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, shoppers are watching their expenses much more closely than in past years and will be looking for bargains anyplace they can find them.
In addition to the traditional frequency programs supermarkets run at this time of year, in which shoppers can earn discounts for spending a certain amount in the weeks before the holidays, supermarkets are also heavily promoting their store brands and seeking to make holiday meal-planning more convenient.
Kroger Co., Cincinnati, is touting is pre-cooked holiday meals, for example, at the “same great prices as last year,” while rival Marsh Supermarkets, Indianapolis, said it is lowering its prices for prepared meals.
Minyard Food Stores, Dallas, not only launched its holiday promotions earlier than it usually does this year, but it also is touting a car giveaway to lure customers into its stores.
Said Mike Provenzano, CEO of Pro's Ranch Markets, Ontario, Calif., which is introducing a new gift card this holiday season, “We need to get out there and beat the drum a little bit to help our consumer base during this economy.”