Top Takeaways from the 2022 National Grocers Association (NGA) Show
The National Grocers Association recently held their 2022 NGA Show at Caesars Forum Convention Center in Las Vegas. This event saw nearly a 20% increase of independent grocers, wholesalers, industry executives and technology providers from across North America. The in-person trade show was one of the first major industry events held mask-less and the positivity and optimism was palpable throughout. The exhibit hall featured more than 200 exhibitors showcasing innovative technologies and services. As a mix of trade show and conference, independent grocers had an opportunity to receive the latest on the state of the grocery industry.
These were our top 3 takeaways from the 2022 NGA Show:
1. Instability will Continue
While independent grocers were challenged like all industries during the pandemic, a shift to eating at home and focus on fresh and healthy alternatives drove strong growth and bottom line margins. Supply chain issues and staffing shortages have driven costs higher which have in turn led to the highest inflation in a generation.
Shoppers have preferred independent grocers during the pandemic with their focus on high quality healthy foods and smaller square footage, helping them feel more comfortable and safe. Grocers need to be mindful that those preferences will only take them so far. A recent survey showed that shoppers are only willing to pay up to about 10% more to shop from their favorite independent grocer and any price increases above that will start to drive them to large big box retailers or online to Amazon. With global instability continuing in 2022, independent grocers will need to be mindful of price increases and may need to accept slimmer margins.
2. Technology is King
The independent grocer has realized that embracing technology is the only way that they will be able to compete against large international competitors like Amazon and Walmart and there has never been more affordable and impactful technology available to them. Over 60% of the NGA Show exhibitors were technology providers offering the latest solutions to help grocers optimize their businesses.
Independent grocers realize that the accelerated growth of eCommerce and self-service solutions throughout the pandemic have changed shopper behavior and their expectations for good. Smaller, convertible self-service options that remove the need for large investments in both capital and floor space are giving the independent grocer the ability to serve customers where and how they want while also helping the keep labor costs in check.
3. Lean into What you do Best
No matter how they try, Amazon and Walmart have not yet been able to solve the independent grocers’ main competitive advantages; location and hyper local community engagement.
The Independent Grocer is embedded in their communities with great locations that allow them to keep their fingers on the pulse of their customer base. By sponsoring local teams, giving many their first jobs and being a part of and supporting local charities, grocers enjoy unparalleled customer loyalty. It’s not just the giving community spirit that helps grocers compete, it’s their ability to identify and respond to local trends whether it be hyper local fresh foods, buying from local farmers and ranchers or carrying specialized niche products that large chains often never even have visibility of.
The 2022 NGA Show highlighted the successes of independent grocers adding to the optimism and growing believe, proven out over the last 2 years, that they can respond to any challenges that come their way. By preparing for continued instability, focusing on smart technology and leaning into their strengths, independent grocery will continue to thrive.
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About the NGA Show
The NGA Show has been the place where independent grocers gather for more than 30 years, connecting supermarket retailers and wholesalers, food manufacturers and service providers from around the world to share innovative solutions and best practices that support and strengthen the independent supermarket channel. For more information, please visit www.theNGAshow.com.