(Editors' Note: This is part one of a three-part series.)
The 2020 edition of Progressive Grocer’s annual ranking of leading retailers of food and consumables has changed in several notable ways. The list now reflects a more comprehensive view of the universe of retailers active in food and consumables categories and the geographic areas in which these retailers operate. This enlightened approach resulted in the creation of The PG 100: North America’s Top Retailers of Food and Consumables. It also marks a shift from the long-running Super 50 ranking, which focused on U.S.-only retailers that fit a more traditional definition of a grocer or supermarket.
Why the change? Why does anything in retail change? Because consumers have changed, and in some pretty dramatic ways. Where and how they shop for food, what they eat, how they live, their lifestyle priorities and drivers of purchase behaviors have evolved considerably from a decade or two ago. And more change will come as consumers adjust to life after COVID-19.
As consumers have changed, so has the nature of competition. The world of food and consumables is filled with innovation and nontraditional competitors that now sell lots of food and consumables, but don’t spring to mind when one hears the word "grocer" or "supermarket." In addition, many retailers, whether based in the United States, Canada or Mexico, operate throughout North America. The PG 100 accounts for these new competitive dynamics as they exist today and increasingly will affect the industry going forward.
Creating a list of this type is an inexact science, as there are large numbers of privately held companies that are quite secretive about details of their operations. Nevertheless, to create the PG 100, we relied on public and private sources, diligent research and proven forecasting methodologies employed by financial analysts to generate reliable sales estimates.
In total, the companies on this year’s PG 100 grew sales by 5.7% to $1.869 trillion from $1.768 trillion the prior year. That’s an impressive rate of growth for an industry often regarded as mature, which speaks to the level of innovation and the rapidly evolving and expansive competitive landscape that warranted creation of a new industry benchmark: The PG 100.