100 YEARS OF FOOD RETAILING
As the 2010s progressed, every aspect of the grocery industry experienced change at an ever quickening pace. Much of it was driven by advancements in technology, whether it was artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, frictionless store experiences, or automation and autonomy. Most significant, though, was the adoption of e-commerce in the grocery world early in the decade, which was then accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.
To help food retailers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape — which would soon include Amazon — Progressive Grocer noted in December 2014, “Grocers must merge the best aspects of traditional and digital retailing — and those that don’t, put their future at risk.”
- In 2015, Albertsons merged with Safeway and Kroger acquired Roundy’s. Amazon rattled the industry with its 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods Market. In 2021, Raley’s acquired Bashas’ Family of Stores, and Bodega Latina Corp. acquired Smart & Final.
- It was the end of an era for A&P in 2015, when the Northeast grocery giant went out of business after twice declaring bankruptcy. Its Waldbaum’s, Pathmark, Superfresh, The Food Emporium and Food Basics banners were subsequently snapped up by rivals.
- German deep-discounter Lidl arrived in America in 2017 with much fanfare but little initial success. The company eventually found its footing, invested heavily in the supply chain and ended the decade with more than 100 stores.
- Frictionless checkout became a reality in 2018, when Amazon introduced its cashier-less Amazon Go stores, which leveraged computer vision to track Prime members’ purchases and bill their payment method on file.
- In September 2020, in a bid to compete with Amazon Prime, Walmart introduced Walmart+, a membership program combining in-store and online benefits. Other grocers launched fee-based membership programs with benefits unique to their organizations.
The 2010s saw a clash of the titans as new mega-deals emerged.