Shelby Report: Independents Nationwide Eye Another Strong Year In 2021

January 31, 2021
by Mary Margaret Stewart, staff writer

Phil Blackburn owns four IGA grocery stores in eastern Washington, two of which are general market and the others Hispanic-oriented. In 2021, he expects another good year for independent grocers.

“We’re still holding with a lot larger basket size, so that shows us that people are going into smaller stores and independents rather than the big, crowded superstores. And they’re buying a lot more per trip,” he said. “We’ve noticed a real solid trend toward people are really starting to try things that, perhaps two years ago, we couldn’t sell.”

And like many retailers, Blackburn’s stores also are turning more to e-commerce. 

On the other side of the country, it’s a similar story at Geissler’s Supermarkets in Connecticut. CEO Robert Rybick said that last year will end up being the springboard to what 2021 is going to hold. The way he sees it, independent grocers need to have “a serious focus on executing all of these new tools we have in the toolbox now.”

“I think the independents that saw that the landscape was shifting, and how dramatically it was shifting because of COVID and jumped on board, will be the ones that are successful,” he said.

“If anyone was hesitant about adopting new things, I think technology is only going to increase at an even faster pace than we’ve already seen, so do your homework and make sure that you don’t get left behind.”

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