business news in context, analysis with attitude

Florida Today reports that so-called “big box” retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Costco are using food courts, formerly the preserve of shopping malls, to attract shoppers and keep them in their stores longer.

The retailers say that the evidence is that shoppers spend more at stores that have food courts, which essentially offer fast food in a cafeteria setting.
KC's View:
Have you ever been to a food court that served food worth a damn?

We haven’t…which is why we read this story with something akin to skepticism.

Not that the report is untrue. We have every confidence that the trend is taking place as reported. It’s just that for the most part, a number of these companies aren’t in the food business – they’re really in the customer traffic business. (Not Costco; from all appearances, it seems to have a stronger food orientation.) These companies would sell widgets if they brought in huge numbers of customers. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

But it strikes us that this pedestrian approach to food is something that can be exploited by retailers that specialize in food, have a commitment to food, and know that they can deliver a differentiated and world-class food experience.

Both in the food they sell for in-store consumption and that which they sell to be cooked and/or eaten at home, food retailers need to be reaching for a level of excellence that perhaps they have not achieved in the recent past. Move beyond “supermarket food” and all the cardboard implications that the phrase suggests, and be category killers when it comes to food.

That would be our prescription for success.