With consumers watching their wallets, grocery stores are stepping up their made-to-order meals to compete in the takeout arena.
As the gap widens between grocery store and restaurant pricing, stores are taking steps to attract customers looking for complete meals at lower prices. Referred to as “groceraunts,” many of these hybrid locations are focusing on convenience, offering pre-made hot meals like chili, soups, pizza, and more that are ready to eat and ready to heat. This allows grocers to offer patrons a variety of options and cuisine, all in one place. Some are even adding self-serve options so patrons can customize their meals to take home for a one-stop shopping experience.
Grocers are getting creative with features like food halls, where customers can enjoy a variety of different cuisines, prepared fresh in a store-within-a-store concept. Many even have areas where customers can sit and enjoy their hot and cold meals without leaving the store.
Some grocery stores have taken steps to re-design the layout to add hot meal stations as a focal point, hoping to make the retail experience more appealing to foodies for sit-down meals and grab-and-go options.
This shift is another indicator that restaurants need to focus on offering guests an experience they can’t find anywhere else. While grocery stores may offer speed and convenience, there’s no substitute for a great dining experience at a restaurant.
“It really gets down to who has their back, who earns their loyalty today to drive that frequency tomorrow,” says Todd Penegor, chief executive at Wendy’s. Getting to know customers and building relationships with regulars is how restaurateurs can get the upper hand, relying on loyalty and service to retain regular business.