Blurring Lines Between Supermarkets, Restaurants

Customers flock to stores with more foodservice.

May 24, 2018

CHICAGO – A supermarket is no longer merely a place to pick up produce and package food, Supermarket News reports. Consumers, especially younger ones, are pushing for more foodservice at the retail level.

“In the past, you'd kind of seen this divide between a grocery store and a restaurant,” said Amanda Topper, associate director of foodservice research at Mintel, at a recent session during the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. “The grocery store is where you go to buy food when you're going to prepare a meal at home. The restaurant is where you go purchase food or eat food away from home.”

While oyster bars at Chicago Mariano’s, Ralphs’ wine bars and Kroger’s Kitchen 1883 represent more of a higher end foodservice at grocery stores, supermarkets have long served fried or rotisserie chicken, along with sandwiches. “[Foodservice is] either something that you’re consuming at the restaurant or store or it’s something that you’re talking away. It can also be a proprietary restaurant, or it can be a third-party restaurant, for example, a Subway restaurant located inside of a Walmart,” Topper said.

Customers who are picking up fresh foodservice at grocery stores are young men who earn a lot and are parents. “They might be shopping for the week and looking for a quick, easy meal for their family,” she said.

Current research indicates that nearly 20% of consumers want more grocery stores to offer sit-down eateries—but 33% have no interest at all. “We know that shoppers really want an experience when they go out,” Topper said. “Twenty-five percent of consumers are likely to spend time a store even if they're not shopping, so perhaps they're going to do some work or they're going to enjoy a meal.”