Grocers Optimism Shines Through at NGA Show

March 21, 2017

Once again, The NGA Show witnessed its largest attendance—nearly 3,400 independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers, and service providers—all sharing ideas and best practices on how independents are meeting today’s challenges head on.

As I participated in the education sessions and walked the EXPO floor, I was struck by a sense of optimism that prevailed among those present at this year’s Show. This “can-do” spirit also shined through in the results of NGA’s national grocery shoppers survey that was conducted by Nielsen on behalf of NGA and sponsored by Shelby Publishing Co., Inc. The survey segmented data by independent shoppers from regional and national chain shoppers and provided analysis into consumer attitudes and behaviors. Findings from the survey, along with recommendations on how independents can identify trends and implement strategies to grow their bottom lines were presented during an educational session during The NGA Show.

The results revealed high consumer satisfaction among independent supermarkets. 82% of respondents who primarily shop at an independent supermarket reported being very/extremely satisfied compared to 65% of respondents who reported being very/extremely satisfied with a national chain.

One of the many driving factors influencing consumers’ overwhelming preference for independent supermarkets is their unique ability to offer fresh and local items to customers through the relationships they have already created with local producers in nearby communities. Indeed, 68% of shoppers gave high scores to independents for offering locally grown produce and packaged goods. This should come as good news to independents, who have a keen understanding of the value of fresh, particularly as they have such close ties to nearby farms and local businesses.

In addition to the areas where independents are excelling, the survey results also provide a glimpse into areas where grocers can leverage their unique strengths to grow their bottom line and meet evolving demand. One particular area is in the digital space, which continues to grow and has become a vital part of the shopping experience for younger consumers. Not only are customers placing orders online—they’re getting their ideas about what products to buy and comparing prices online. Social media has an essential piece of outreach for stores, with nearly half of all independent shoppers using Facebook to research new products, recipes, and nutrition before creating their shopping lists.

Health and wellness also played an important role for shoppers; approximately six-in-10 believe that healthy food should be displayed alongside other food items, and more than half value nutritional ratings and 81% prefer to see it labeled on the product itself. Moreover, consumers said that it was important for supermarkets to provide a dietitian in stores help shoppers make healthier purchasing decisions.

It’s easy to get lost in the numbers, but I offer this insight as grocers sift through the report—the independent supermarket industry has the advantage to stay ahead of the consumer trend curve. Independent grocers have much to build on for the future and on behalf NGA, we’d like to thank Shelby Publishing for its generous support of this research project. We look forward to continuing the momentum and sharing additional results and insights this spring. To learn more, please visit