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Catalina is out with a new study today concluding that “Center Store remains a vital driver of trips and volume for grocery retailers, with more than 99 percent of all shoppers purchasing from the Center Store in 2017.” The report goes on to suggest that “brands that introduce innovative, often-niche products that address evolving consumer motivations are keeping the Center Store relevant.”

Such products, the study says, include “non-fat/low fat ice cream, value-priced entrée frozen dinners, sparkling/seltzer water, ready-made coffee drinks, window and glass cleaners, fresh rolls, dried meat snacks, vinegar, value-priced bath tissue, and a variety of snack and candy subcategories.” And, the study says that “specific cross-category consumer preferences like ‘Heart Healthy,’ ‘Low-Fat,’ ‘Trans-Fat Avoiders,’ and ‘GMO Avoiders’ are fueling the growth of some of the fastest growing product subcategories.

Other conclusions:

• “The Center Store accounted for 60 annual trips per shopper, per store, down just one trip per shopper, per store from 2016.”

• “Some 99.5 percent of all shoppers frequented the Center Store in 2017, spending an average of $1,408 a year there.”

• “81 percent of all shopping baskets included at least one Center Store item.”
KC's View:
Catalina concludes that “center store is alive and well,” but one should not forget that for many retailers, center store is the most vulnerable to disruption by online grocers and replenishment systems. Retailers have to find ways to differentiate themselves in center store, but also have to deal with the probability that billions of dollars in sales will move online in coming years.