The traditional supermarket deli has gone through an evolution in recent years, as retailers complement their traditional deli counters with experiments involving in-store restaurant concepts, globally inspired hot and cold food bars, crafted soups, and signature sandwiches. Add the newest craze of meal kits to the mix, and you have a deli department that looks decidedly different from a few decades ago.
With more consumers feeling time-starved and looking for daily meal inspiration, it looks as if grocers will continue to find new ways to reach their shoppers in an effort to boost sales — and they’re going all over the store to do it.
Which factors have been most influential in securing strong everyday deli sales? Retailers cite engaged associates (65.5 percent), signature items (48.3 percent), advertising/promotions (41.4 percent), and active sampling/events (just under 40 percent) as the primary contributors. Other factors a little further down the list include product samples, merchandising/experience, in-store specials and social media special offers.
Not surprisingly, salads and healthier fare were mentioned by a large number of respondents, who note that customers are thinking more about wellness than ever before.
“Our fresh salads move very fast,” explains one owner of an independent operation in Virginia. “Sandwiches and wraps go faster when they’re already made up and placed in an open-face refrigerator.” Another respondent goes so far as to list “vegan” as a growing category.