Coronavirus the death of groceries as we know it?

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As America looks to life beyond the coronavirus, an essential activity may never be the same.

“The biggest question for anyone in the retail business across the country” is what stores will look like after the coronavirus right now, Stew Leonard CEO Stew Leonard Jr. told FOX Business.

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Stew Leonard’s opened just over 50 years ago and has grown into the “largest dairy store in the world” and a thriving grocery business with annual sales of nearly $ 500 million, according to its website. Based in Norwalk, Connecticut, the family-run supermarket chain also has multiple locations in New York and New Jersey.

It is not an ordinary shopping experience. Before the coronavirus struck, customers made their way through huge one-way aisles decorated in an entertaining atmosphere. Animated costumed characters sang and danced while people nibbled on samples of freshly baked cider donuts, pretzels and cheeses. People ordered juicy burgers right next to their grill in the summer or ate one of their famous frozen yogurts. And the children celebrated the birthdays at one of their themed evenings.

Now, “Chiquita Banana” and all the displays have been “put on vacation”. Popular areas of the congregation, such as the deli counter and bagel bins, were rotated and the buffet was closed.

Looking ahead, Leonard Jr. believes excitement will be the key to unlocking the consumer shopping experience.

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“I would say the retailers that make it exciting to come up with all kinds of new California fresh fruit and cherries and exciting new products and, you know, you see them doing stuff right in front of them, like mozzarella.” You see the butchers cutting meat, “said Leonard Jr.” I think these stores are going to do better than those that have no exposure. “

Leonard Jr. also believes that farmers’ markets have a bright future.

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“I think everyone likes going to a farmers market. They are exciting and fun, “he said. “It will not go away. … Food is too important for people. “

Home delivery and curbside pickup may also be doing well. Stores are now recording a 15 to 25% increase in the home delivery category. At one time, it only represented 5% of sales.

“The question is really: will this post-coronavirus be sticky?” Said Leonard Jr. “And I certainly don’t think it’s going to go back to 5%. So it could be 10 or 15% after that. “

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