The Near Future of Grocery Stores

A new report shows supermarket trends include smaller formats and automatic checkout.

June 14, 2019

LOS ANGELES – A new report on the U.S. grocery industry points to a near-term future with a fully automated checkout process, a greater emphasis on prepared meals, a proliferation of smaller, convenience-store grocery outlets, and more collaboration between grocers and nontraditional partners such as fitness operators and restaurants.

A new report from CBRE found that U.S. grocers face significant pressure to adapt to changing consumer preferences, new store formats, automation and delivery demand. “The store will remain central to the grocery industry, but its format and function will be reshaped by multiple factors over the coming years,” said Melina Cordero, CBRE global head of retail research, in a press release. “Grocery operators must diversify their offering to best compete, which will lead to varied store formats for different markets, nontraditional merchandise assortments and an even greater focus on customer convenience.”

CBRE predicts that the grocery checkout line will disappear within 10 years. A slew of technological advancements is converging to replace the traditional checkout line, including carts with built-in barcode scanners and credit-card swipers; mobile-payment apps; weight sensors and cameras; and merchandise-scanning robots. Technology also will allow shelves to keep track of inventory.

Major grocery operators will expand further into convenience-store formats. The industry’s largest players are finding a strong growth opportunity in opening and operating smaller-format stores in dense, mostly urban markets. Many of these stores focus on convenience fare such as prepared meals. Already, big names have moved into the space, including Kroger Co. with its Express Mart format and Hy-Vee with Fast & Fresh. (See more on Hy-Vee at the NACS Show during the Ideas 2 Go general session on Oct. 3)