It used to be way back in the day, that consumers shopped for their produce, meat and fish at a variety of individual purveyors. Then came the small grocer and finally the arrival of the giant grocery chains and their mammoth food arenas. The big box shopping centers now offered convenience (open seven days a week and in a number of cases 24 hours) and unfettered choice all under one roof. In one stop you could buy eggs and school supplies and even get your film developed. But the advent of the grocery store appeared to signal the sunset years of the specialty retailers and the mom and pop shop. Except for a few notable exceptions, the neighborhood grocer seemed destined to fade into oblivion. Now there appears to be a reversal of sorts. According to the NYT, a group of large grocery stores such as Safeway in California and Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh are testing out a new kind of smaller format market focusing on fresh produce and prepared meals.
The big grocery chains are not thinking about closing their larger stores, which have been a success. But they hope to capture new business with the smaller stores, appealing to consumers on days when they do not have time for a long shopping trip.