More grocery retailers opening in-store bars to lure shoppers
Friday, July 07, 2017
I have fond memories of Singapore — and the roadside bars (as tiny as a photo booth) feature quite a bit in them! Most functioned only during happy hours. Just get off the subway after a hard day at work and grab a drink before heading home. The hedonist in me quite loved it.
Then, there is Europe, which excels in making the tiniest roadside tavern or pub into an unforgettable experience. Here in America, we have big cities and touristy places offering these options, but what happens to the rest of us in the sleepy suburbs?
We have the ubiquitous American grocery stores coming to our rescue, of course!
More grocery stores are setting up wine and beer bars, inviting shoppers to relax and drink while they shop. Stores have even equipped shopping carts with cup-holders to make it easy to drink, luring shoppers to linger longer in the stores. Giant Food Stores is among the latest to add a bar-bistro atmosphere for shoppers in Pennsylvania, along with Harris Teeter in the Charlotte area.
Wine bars and beer gardens are expected to bring in shoppers — redesigning the stores to become destinations for diners and drinkers, not just shoppers. While the grocery store wine bar concept isn't new, the idea has grown in recent years to combat the dual blow of competition and saturation in the industry.
When the Starbucks within a Target store in Chicago advertised wine and beer in the evening menu along with coffee, they came across has a hip innovator. Now stores are turning to by-the-glass beer and wine sales, and even pairing these with tapas-like fares within the in-store "bistros."
What may have started as one chain trying to distinguish itself in a highly competitive landscape is fast becoming a trend. As stores try to attract more millennial footprints, tap rooms are springing up across chains to make their shopping experience a little more relaxed. The idea is to offer pleasure for the whole shopping experience, instead of shoppers rushing in and out.
Some stores are also trying to match the local flavors by offering craft beers from local breweries, a concept that millennials seem to love. Wegmans, which beat Trader Joe's to gain the top position as "the best grocery store in America," stands out for its classy and distinguished in-store pub, with its array of options for thirsty shoppers, complete with happy hour specials.
For retailers like Target, partnering with Starbucks Evenings is easier than going through official loopholes for permits and liquor licenses. Kroger has introduced growler stations, which offer refills of everything from sodas to beer and wine. Local or state-based stores like H-E-B in Texas and grocery chain Winn-Dixie are in the game, too.
As more millennials are looking for a hip hangout for a stiff drink after work, retailers are lining up to offer them a place to chill out. It's not just the grocery stores either.
Millennial-focused stores like Urban Outfitters have designated bar areas; some even have specialty restaurants. Barnes & Noble plans to include sit-down restaurants and has alcohol on the menu in addition to its hugely successful cafes.
While recessions and economic slumps affect all businesses, the food industry still sees sales. Now retailers are hoping that food and beverage will make up more sales than categories like books, clothing and other items. It will also drive traffic through the rest of the store.
It's not just the chains that are experimenting either. Eclectic bars, in-store baristas and pizza makers are all adding to this new-age experience of grocery shopping.
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