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The National Grocers Association (NGA) yesterday offered its regular assessment of the role that its core constituency - independent food retailers - plays in the broader economy.

The key observations:  "Independent grocers contribute more than $255 billion to the economy, or about 1.2% of the U.S. GDP … Independent community grocers are responsible for more than 1.1 million jobs earning wages approaching $39 billion. Wholesalers serving independent grocers provide more than 44,000 jobs that earn wages of nearly $3.3 billion … Independent grocers generate federal, state and local tax revenues surpassing $36 billion … Independent grocery sales rose from $131 billion to $253.6 billion between 2012 and 2020. During that same period, overall U.S. grocery store sales rose from $524 billion to $772 billion … Independent grocery sales account for 33% of total U.S. grocery sales, up from 25% a decade ago."

However, NGA points out in a cautionary note, "Despite these gains, independent grocers  lost ground in many rural and urban areas where food deserts exist due in large part to competitive disadvantages in the marketplace that favor big-box retailers and dollar stores."

“Not only are independent community grocers at the heart of the community, they are also at the heart of the U.S. economy, responsible for more than 1.1 American million jobs across thousands of communities,” said NGA President-CEO Greg Ferrara in a prepared statement.  “The continued strength and growth of the independent supermarket industry shows consumers are supporting local, community grocers who continue to innovate and bring value to the communities they serve.” 

KC's View:

The ability of the independent grocer sector to remain, as NGA puts it , at the heart of the economy and the communities they serve, depends on retailers' ability and willingness to innovate, disrupt their own business models, and challenge conventional thinking about food, format and functionality.

Anything less will put the sector into perhaps irreversible decline.