The Independent’s Playbook: Navigating Inflation

April 25, 2022

By Jim Dudlicek, NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

When it comes to inflation, the light at the end of the tunnel increasingly resembles an oncoming train.

The ingredients of a lingering pandemic, a labor shortage, high fuel prices and global turmoil have become a recipe for a miserable concoction that pleases no one’s palate. Still, folks need to eat, and they’re looking to their neighborhood grocer to help them stretch their dollars and deliver value to their family tables.

Right now, that’s a tall order, and it’s likely to continue to be so for some time. Consider the latest data from consumer purchase behavior tracker Numerator: In March 2022, consumers paid more for their everyday goods, including groceries (up 11% vs YA and 16.9% vs 2YA).

However, there’s glimmer of hope for traditional grocers: The rate of grocery inflation stalled or declined in March for food, club and online channels, but increased for mass (+10.5%) and dollar (+21.6%) channels.

Still, consumers across the board are getting hammered by the escalating cost of groceries, to varying degrees. According to Numerator, Gen Z’s are feeling the pain more than Millennials and Boomers; low-income consumers more than middle and high income; and Black consumers more so than White, Hispanic and Asian.

These revelations should give independent grocers better insight into how they can deliver on the needs of their individual communities. Consumers on a tight budget are always looking for ways to make their grocery dollars go further, but inflation is inflicting additional pressure on everyone.

It’s true that category sales across the store for the most part continue to do well. But grocers are under much the same pressure as consumers, facing higher costs for products in every category and still operating within slim margins. Grocers do their best to minimize added costs passed along to consumers and make every effort to maximize value for folks when times are tough.

Add it to the list of crises in which supermarkets step up to help their communities – and another reason why more consumers are putting their trust in independent grocers.