Summer vacations have come to an end, children are off to school, and daily routines have become more rigid. Fall often serves as a reminder that change is around us, and here at the NGA change has been notable as Peter Larkin – only the second president and CEO of the organization – and mentor and friend to not just me but many in the industry, transitioned into a well-deserved retirement. With the closing of one door, another door opens, and following an extensive national search, on September 1, I officially took the helm at NGA.
The supermarket industry has always been a fiercely competitive industry, but new formats, new products, new competitors, shifting consumer preferences in-store and online—grocers are undergoing change at a rapid pace. Product selection is becoming more diverse and exciting, while perimeter departments are capitalizing upon consumer demand for novel and fresh items.
Yet, despite this change, independents continue to innovate, take advantage of new technologies and find creative ways to serve their customers and beat the competition. According to research conducted on behalf of NGA by Nielsen and the Harris Poll, loyal independent grocery shoppers spend approximately 40% more on groceries at independents than the average shopper.
Independent grocers are entrepreneurial, nimble by nature, operating their business with flexibility that allows them to focus on high-quality customer service, in-store experience, local and unique food items. They are an integral foundation in their communities through both the services they provide, as well as the jobs and local economic benefits they create.
As NGA goes through its own leadership transition there is something that will remain constant – our privilege to be the voice of the independent supermarket industry. NGA is proud to represent a growing list of more than 1,500 independent retail and wholesale supermarket companies that generate over 8,000 store fronts nationwide. None of our success would have been possible without the strong support and commitment of our member companies.
While we face a changes and disruptions in the marketplace together, we look forward to being the place where independent grocers can find a community to share best practices and find solutions for a stronger future. We will also continue to stand up for Main Street local supermarkets and fight to achieve wins that allow them to grow their businesses, create jobs, and serve their communities.
Independent retail grocers and wholesalers have been the economic engines of their communities for years, reliable in good times and bad. With more than $131 billion in sales and nearly a million jobs, independents are the backbone of local communities and the national economy. The future is bright for independent supermarkets and you will have the support of the NGA team for years to come.