business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that "shoppers in their 20s and 30s are visiting supermarkets less frequently than their parents, government records and survey data show. They are spreading purchases across new options, including online grocery services such as AmazonFresh, beefed-up convenience stores and stronger food offerings from omnibus retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp."

The story goes on to say that "consumers between 25 and 34 years of age last year spent an average of $3,539 on groceries, about $1,000 less in inflation-adjusted dollars than people that age spent in 1990, federal data shows ... The shift away from big grocery bills wasn’t as obvious before the financial crisis saddled millennials with student debt and weak job prospects, and placed a lasting drag on consumer spending."

It isn;t just grocery shopping habits that are changing, the Journal writes: "The more than 75 million Americans born in the 1980s and 1990s are also delaying marriage and childbearing, milestones that traditionally lead people to start making big trips to the grocery store."
KC's View:
The story makes clear that many supermarkets are doing everything they can to cope with the shifting consumer habits, from developing their own online services and applications to contemplating consolidating with other retailers, to forming alliances with the likes of Instacart and Shipt as they try to find some sort of response to their troubles.

Of course, there will be companies that will resist the notion that they have to embrace any sort of fundamental change or internal disruption, and will say instead that all they have to do is get back to basics and things will take care of themselves.

There is a word to describe such retailers. History.

It is not like once these people get to a certain age, they're going to revert to the shopping habits and preferences of their parents; these are deeply ingrained attitudinal and demographic shifts, and they're only going to get more pronounced. Besides, I'm not even sure that their parents want to revert to old behaviors.

I certainly don't.