Years ago, consumers shopped at the grocery store to fill the pantry and fridge. These days, the food retail industry is comprised of convenience stores, delicatessens, supermarkets, hypermarkets (AKA supercenters), warehouse club stores and specialty food stores, including ethnic and organic. This means there are enormous job opportunities in food retail.
Although half of all food retail workers are cashiers or stock clerks, other opportunities exist for department managers, information systems managers, buyers, category managers who analyze pricing strategies and track sales from headquarters, field managers, food project coordinators, nutrition team leaders and replenishment analysts.
In retail distribution, food retailers need professionals who can deliver product quickly and efficiently. Because of recent consolidations and downsizing, demand is stronger for mid-level managers and professionals than for executives.
According to the Wall Street Journal, demand in supermarket retailing is high for store managers who can manage multiple sites. Food retail managers' salaries are usually based on the store's profitability. For example, the Wall Street Journal reports a manager in charge of a supermarket that generates between $450,000 and $500,000 in revenues per week could earn a base salary of $60,000 to $70,000 a year.
Grocery Retail Trends
Because food retail is highly competitive, retailers must meet consumers' demands for convenience, quality, price and variety to succeed. As a result, cross-channel competitions have developed. For example, supermarkets sell gas in convenience store formats, while convenience stores and drugstores have food aisles.
Wholesale clubs and supercenters bring the cross-channel idea to the next level. They are one-stop shops that strive to meet all consumers' needs under one roof and at a discount price. US supercenter operators such as Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer, Kmart and Target are growing and evolving to sell more food products.
While the Internet promises convenience, Internet-only grocers are too expensive due to high warehousing and home-delivery costs. Instead, bricks-and-clicks stores, such as Peapod and Albertsons.com, are thriving, because they added e-grocery to their offerings based on their existing brand name and infrastructure. Technology also offers food retailers customer-retaining solutions, such as frequent-shopper programs, purchase-activated coupon programs and instant electronic discounts.
In contrast, boutique specialty food and ethnic food groceries are gems within neighborhoods that cater to ethnic tastes and health concerns, and emphasize fresh, not packaged, foods. Although supermarkets offer sections that accommodate special needs, these boutique stores serve as last-minute convenience stops before dinner.
Consumers will always dedicate a part of their budgets to putting food on the table. And as the population grows, the demand for convenient food shopping will keep pace.
Learn more about food service careers.