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News Briefs

11/15/2022

What Does Retail Foot Traffic Say About Holiday Spending?

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Grocery shopper teaser

Following a tough September, retail foot traffic made a rebound in October, signaling a very merry start to the 2022 holiday season. According to new data from Placer.ai, each retail category saw increased foot traffic last month when compared to the same pre-pandemic time period in 2019.

For the food retail segment, visits were up 4.3% in October year over three year from 2019. Discount and dollar stores saw foot traffic increase from 14.5% in September to 19.9% in October, while superstore foot traffic rose from 0.8% to 4.6% in the same period.

[Read more: "Which Adult Beverages Will Grocery Shoppers Purchase for the Holidays?"]

While many retail segments saw visits drop when compared to year-over-year foot traffic numbers, Placer.ai’s Ethan Chernofsky wrote that pent-up demand from 2020 and early 2021 led to major retail visit surges in 2021. Now, he wrote, foot traffic in many segments is simply normalizing.

Additionally, month-over-month increases for this year are not as sharp as those seen last year, but the customer-driven extension of the holiday season beyond November despite inflation and tighter budgets is a positive sign for the coming season, Chernofsky asserted. 

“[T]his year, the holiday season is both starting early and expected to continue all the way through, which should give retailers even more time than last year to serve consumers looking to make the most of this year’s holidays,” wrote Chernofsky. “If current trends continue, then, 2022’s extended holiday shopping season may well outperform 2021’s.”

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11/15/2022

Big Y Accepts SNAP EBT Benefits in Massachusetts

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big y teaser

Eligible Massachusetts residents can now use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to buy groceries online from Massachusetts-based Big Y.

The supermarket chain is the latest retailer in the commonwealth to accept EBT SNAP online, providing more than 600,000 low-income households the same purchasing choices as other shoppers. Big Y joins Amazon, BJ’s, Daily Table, Geissler’s Supermarket, Shaw’s/Star Market, Stop & Shop and Walmart. Additionally, Aldi, Brothers Marketplace, Hannaford, McKinnon’s Supermarkets, Price Chopper, Price Rite Marketplace, Roche Bros., Sudbury Farms and Wegmans accept EBT SNAP via Instacart.

According to the Department of Transitional Assistance, across all eligible retailers, Massachusetts residents have spent more than $240 million in SNAP benefits to date buying groceries online from eligible retailers.

Big Y customers can now use their SNAP benefits when purchasing groceries online through the Instacart marketplace. Shoppers must enter their EBT card as the form of payment on their Instacart account and select items from the list of EBT SNAP-eligible products as part of their Big Y order. Similar to using SNAP benefits to purchase food in a store, benefits can be used to buy SNAP-eligible foods online, including fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy and eggs.

"At Big Y, we are always striving to enhance the shopping experience for all of our customers," said Christian DAmour, director of e-commerce at Big Y Foods. "We are so excited to now offer this valuable benefit and flexible shopping option to our customers and their families."

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, encompassing more than 70 supermarkets, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with more than 10,000 employees. The company is No. 75 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

11/11/2022

Big Y Launches Annual Sack Hunger Campaign

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Big Y's myPicks Rolls Out Same-Day Ordering and Pickup

Big Y Foods Inc. has launched its annual Sack Hunger campaign, which provides funds for four food banks within the independent grocer’s two-state New England marketing area. The four food banks are The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Worcester County Food Bank, the Greater Boston Food Bank and Connecticut Food Share.

For a $5 donation, a customer can support Sack Hunger from any register at Big Y’s retail locations or online, through Nov. 23. Every $5 donation brings 10 meals to those in need. Last year, Big Y and its customers donated 5.5 million meals to local communities. 

Further, Big Y has added even more ways to boost this year’s efforts, particularly in the program’s first week: The company is donating an additional 10 cents per pound for every pound of its signature Smart Chicken and USDA Choice Angus Beef sold, while in its produce and floral departments, additional proceeds are also supporting the program. Big Y has additionally pledged to donate 5 cents for every private brand sold throughout the store for the first week. Along with the Big Y brand, these other private brands include Food Club, Crav’n, Culinary Tours, Full Circle Organics, Wide Awake Coffee, Sweet P’s, Simply Done, Paws, Pure Harmony, Tippy Toes and Top Care.

Over the past 11 years, Big Y’s Sack Hunger program has donated 34 million-plus meals to those in need.

Springfield, Mass.-based Big Y operates locations throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut, encompassing 72 supermarkets, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Liquors, and Big Y Express gas and convenience locations, with more than 10,000 employees. The company is No. 75 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America

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11/11/2022

Multi-State Listeria Outbreak Linked to Deli Meats, Cheeses

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Deli meat cheese

A Listeria monocytogenes outbreak tied to sliced meats and cheeses purchased at retail deli counters has sickened consumers across several states. More than 13 people have been hospitalized and at least one death has been attributed to the foodborne illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Affected states include New York, Maryland, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and California. Although some sick people reported that they had bought sliced deli meat or cheese from a NetCost Market location in Brooklyn, N.Y., there were illnesses among consumers in other states who bought such products from other retailers.

[Read more: "Deli-Driven Growth Potential"]

Epidemiologists and public health investigators are using a sophisticated national database of DNA fingerprints of bacteria to identify illnesses that are part of the current outbreak. That PulseNet system utilizes a method called whole genome sequencing.

A statement on the CDC website noted that it is challenging to identify a single item as the culprit: “This is because Listeria spreads easily between food and the deli environment and can persist for a long time in deli display cases and on equipment. A contaminated food likely introduced the outbreak strain of Listeria into delis in multiple states. Investigators are working to identify any specific products or delis that may be contaminated with the outbreak strain.”

The CDC advised high-risk people to avoid eating meat or cheese from any deli counter unless it is heated to 165° F to kill the pathogen. The agency also advised food retailers and deli operators to be vigilant and follow USDA-FSIS food safety best practices.

11/11/2022

Gatik’s Driverless Fleet Named a Best Invention of 2022

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Gatik TIME

Innovations abound in the grocery tech sector, including a logistics solution that has been named as a Best Invention of 2022 from TIME. The news magazine and website recognized Gatik’s fully driverless box trucks used to move orders between Walmart warehouses and markets.

Following a global online nomination process, TIME's editors chose Gatik based on factors including originality, efficacy, ambition and impact. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company stood out for its proprietary commercial-grade autonomous technology built for middle-mile logistics and designed for safe, fixed and repeatable delivery.

“We are humbled to have been named to the 2022 TIME Best Inventions list,” said Gautam Narang, Gatik CEO and co-founder. “We are especially proud that the selection honors the successful application of our solution in real-world, commercial environments. It’s only when groundbreaking technology becomes operationalized that its true impact can be felt by the end consumer. Recognition on TIME’s prestigious list belongs to the entire team who are working tirelessly to ensure the true advantages of autonomy can be felt across our customer base today.”

Gatik continues to expand its technology in the grocery space. After launching the driverless deliveries with Walmart, the company recently widened its deployment with Loblaw Cos., Ltd. in Canada to move select online grocer orders for Loblaw’s express service.

In addition to technologies used for grocery e-commerce, TIME’s list of best inventions for the year include several food and drink products available in grocery stores. Honorees include Beyond Steak from Beyond Meat, Atomo Coffee Molecular Cold Brew and MyBacon from MyForest Foods, among others.

11/10/2022

Weis Markets Promotes Maria Rizzo to VP of Advertising and Marketing

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Weis Markets Maria Rizzo

Weis Markets has promoted Maria Rizzo to the role of VP of advertising and marketing. Rizzo succeeds Ron Bonacci, who’s retiring at the end of the year.

In her new role, Rizzo will oversee management of Weis’ advertising, marketing and public/community relations activities. Among her key responsibilities are customer relationship management, marketing, and print, digital and electronic advertising.

Rizzo, who joined the company in 2006, worked as category manager, senior manager of private brands and specialty foods before taking on her most recent role, that of director of marketing, in 2015.

Sunbury, Pa.-based Weis Markets operates 197 stores in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and West Virginia. The company is No. 61 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named it as one of the Top 10 Regional Operators to Watch in 2022.