3 Reasons 2022 Will Be Good For Grocery

Dec 30, 2021

This is the time of year when experts and futurists are called on to make predictions about the upcoming year.

In my case, I am neither an expert nor a futurist and no one has specifically asked me for my thoughts on what’s next. In fact, this year has proven to be so unexpected and difficult, trying to predict next year seems pretty silly. And yet it's important for those in our industry to look to the future and anticipate the trends and challenges so we can prepare our stores and our teams for what's next. 

Of course, COVID -19 will continue to influence shopper behavior in the coming year, as the research—and you and I—could predict. Here are three things I think are heading our way in 2022 and why it's going to be a good year for the grocery industry.

1. Health

COVID has forced everyone to spend a lot of time thinking about their health in the last two years. That’s a good thing for those of us who sell healthy foods. In fact, Americans say they are more committed to eating better (and cooking at home) than ever before.

While one might expect the opposite—millions of people eager to break free of their isolation and return to restaurants—researchers at Ipsos, a global market research and public opinion specialist firm, and others confirm that a large percentage of Americans believe eating out is less healthy than cooking fresh. And they don’t see that changing even when COVID is a memory.

Eating in is less expensive, healthier, and tastes better. Millions of younger Americans who learned this during COVID won’t be likely to forget it once the pandemic wanes.

This gives confidence to the things independent grocers do so well: fresh produce, fresh cut meat, prepared foods—but it comes with a challenge. Younger Americans especially want to know more about what they put in their bodies. Whether it is a vaccine, a remedy, or a locally grown tomato, shoppers are more curious than ever about ingredients, origin, and the supply chain. Never before has the opportunity for education been brighter in our industry.

Keep this in mind as you forge new local partnerships and promote your Local Equals Fresh point of difference in 2022. 

2. Isolation

Most Americans think our country is more at odds than ever before, with the majority wishing we could go back to compromise and dialogue. Sensationalist social media and polarized national media have created an environment where people isolate amongst “those they don’t have to fight." Most Americans say they don’t interact with friends or family as much as they used to, or as much as they would like to.

Social animals by nature, humans react poorly when they become isolated and lonely. Incidents of domestic violence, as well as drug and alcohol abuse increase. Depression and anxiety increase just as decision making and activity tends to decrease. In short, COVID fears and self-isolation have been very bad for the country.

In 2022, as COVID infection counts and vaccination rates pass the tipping point, more people will return to normal. This should be good for retailers and their associates, with less risk of angry outbursts in stores, and less fighting over masks or other protocols. Taking Americans' emotional stress levels down a few notches will be good for anyone in a customer-facing field.

3. Inflation

No doubt about it, rising prices will be a part of our lives for much of the next year. While every price increase is expected to fall eventually, most supply chain issues won’t work themselves out quickly. This means consumer goods overall and grocery pricing specifically will see some of the highest inflation in recent years.

A little bit of inflation helps our industry, but too much and the shopper begins to change course. Expect to see an increase in the sales of private label and on-promotion items as value shoppers stretch their incomes. But also expect to see continued growth as shoppers opt out of expensive restaurant meals and choose to shop at home.

f we can use exclusive brands, recipes, and promotions to keep the price of the family meal low—without sacrificing quality—we will grow and maintain share throughout the inflation crisis. That’s great for us and for our industry.

Again, I encourage you to use IGA's resources to deliver value to shoppers through IGA Exclusive Brand products (and the Family Meals Made Easy! recipes and signage using our private label items) and the National Digital Ad offers.

The year is unlikely to be easy. Labor and out of stock issues will continue to be challenges. But the opportunity for growth should continue and that alone should make 2022 a great year for our independent retailers!

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