Grocery shoppers are more demanding these days. Upscale chains like Whole Foods and Wild Oats Markets have conditioned consumers to expect a more attractive, comfortable and over-all beneficial experience. At some Kroger King Sooper’s locations in Colorado and Wyoming, produce displays are works of art, floral displays greet you at the door, and the store-brand products almost always undercut the prices of bigger names. [Also See: Grocery Shopping on a Budget]
According to a recent article by The Consumerist, some supermarkets are also pulling self-checkout lanes in response to shoppers’ preference for checkout transactions managed by actual human beings. Since these changes are to your benefit, here are a few more trends to keep in mind.
1. Coupon Limitations
Some people just have to ruin it for everyone. Shelf clearing has become more common as extreme couponers dominate sales and, as a result, stores like Kroger are implementing strict policies limiting how many coupons a shopper can use at one time. That means we can all get a share of the savings.
2. Loyalty Coupons
All you need is a computer and loyalty card to access a wealth of coupons these days. More stores are offering online coupons you can download directly to your card and the savings is taken off your bill at checkout. The trick here is to record which coupons you’ve downloaded as there’s no way to check once you’re in the store. [Also See: 6 More Places to Find Coupons]
3. Downloadable Coupons
Don’t want to try and remember which cards are on your loyalty card? Many stores now allow you to print out coupons directly from their websites and use them as you would any other coupon.
4. Home Grocery Delivery
If you want to entirely avoid the whole store experience, more companies are providing home delivery, including wine and beer. Those selling food through the mail often provide free shipping with a minimum purchase. Check out these “34 Companies Offering Grocery Home Delivery.”
5. Baby Boomer Fonts
As the largest portion of their grocery audience age and have vision problems, stores are moving to larger fonts on signage, including the little price tabs under each product. In addition, CVS is dealing with “senior sight” by attaching magnifying lenses to shelving units. This is great, but beware of sneaky strategies that include duping you into buying pricier items placed at eye-level.
6. Healthier Food Selection
The demand for organic and health foods has steadily increased until supermarkets simply can’t ignore it. Shoppers don’t have to pay a premium anymore, either, as more health-food manufacturers offer coupons for their products.
7. Food Diversity
Supermarket shelves more frequently reflect the diversity of our population with entire sections devoted to ethnic foods of every stripe. Depending on the region, grocery stores offer everything from Middle East delicacies to Mexican food makings.
8. Catering to Dietary Limitations
There seems to be an explosion of lactose and gluten intolerance in the last few years. Perhaps this is a result of better diagnosing techniques, but supermarkets have taken notice by providing more products suited to these dietary limitations.
9. Accepting Apps
Paper and loyalty-card coupons are the easiest for stores to handle, but mobile coupons are appearing more and more at checkouts across the country. The popular CouponSherpa app allows shoppers to search for supermarkets in their area, then access coupons for their favorite grocery store — all while they shop.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, MSNBC, New York Times Bucks Blog, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com