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Brad Tuttle
Time|time.com

Retail analysts say that the world’s biggest retailer has reason to fear a small grocery chain that’s based in Idaho and boasts a business model that allows it to undercut Walmart on prices.

So about that eye-catching Walmart quote. Those are the words of Burt Flickinger III, a widely respected supermarket retailing industry expert who works for the Strategic Resource Group. Flickinger was quoted in a recent Idaho Statesman story about WinCo, a chain of roughly 100 supermarkets in the western U.S., based in Boise.

“WinCo arguably may be the best retailer in the Western U.S.,” Flickinger says while touring a WinCo store. “WinCo is really unstoppable at this point,” he goes on. “They’re Walmart’s worst nightmare.” read more »

 

Loyalty programs provide consumers with special discounts, and they give retailers loads of data on shoppers’ habits and preferences. So why are supermarket loyalty membership numbers falling? And why has one major grocery company pulled the plug on its loyalty program?

In the grand scheme of things, customer loyalty programs seem to be rapidly on the rise. According to a study by the research firm Colloquy, the number of U.S. loyalty program memberships grew by 26.7 percent from 2010 to 2012. Last year, Americans had a collective total of 2.65 billion loyalty program memberships.

But the study reveals that these programs may not be quite as ascendant as they initially appear. “Even though the average number of loyalty programs per U.S. household has grown to 21.9 (up from 18.4 in 2010), only 9.5 of those memberships — less than half — are currently active,” the report states. read more »

 

What did the 2012 holidays teach us about the current state of shoppers-and, of course, the places where they shop? Here are 10 notable trends.

The Expansion of Black Friday — and the Entire Season

Even though it has caused a backlash among certain consumers, retailers have concluded that the formula for increasing seasonal sales totals is mostly based on increasing holiday promotions, deals, and store hours — hours that now include Thanksgiving night. Not only is it standard for stores to open by 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on Turkey Day, but the holiday season now basically overlaps with the back-to-school shopping period, with promos and Christmas displays popping up in early September. read more »

 

While the big-box retail model is far from dead, stores such as Walmart, Best Buy and Cabela’s are realizing that the enormous, one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for all shoppers — nor all locations. To grow, many retailers are shrinking, sometimes with smaller stores, sometimes by introducing smaller, more intimate and approachable locations within larger stores.

Here are a few of the retailers that are evolving by going small:

Ace Hardware

Plans are in the works for nearly 400 scaled-down versions of the home improvement retailer’s stores to pop up in urban and rural locations alike. read more »

 
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