UK: The supermarket lending shoppers money for groceries
Food costs in the UK are rising at an alarming rate. One research firm predicts the average annual household shopping bill will be nearly $800 (£643) higher this year. A recent survey by food poverty charity The Food Foundation found half of the country’s households are purchasing fewer fruits and vegetables, which have seen marked price hikes. And almost 10 million adults and four million children are food insecure, meaning families are skipping meals altogether.

In a bid to help those who find themselves in hardship, UK supermarket chain Iceland Foods is offering small interest-free loans to help people buy groceries. The microloan program, called Iceland Food Club, could relieve pressure on the country’s food banks — which are unable to meet demand — and increase borrowers’ access to the fresh produce often lacking in non-perishable-focused donation boxes.

The Club is designed to help families spread out the cost of food over a few months. Microloans of £25 to £100 (US$30-120) come on pre-loaded cards that can be used in any Iceland store or its bulk shopping brand, The Food Warehouse.

Source: ReasonsToBeCheerful 

Israel: Retailer Shufersal swings to Q3 loss on efficiency moves
Shufersal, Israel's largest supermarket chain, reported on Monday a third-quarter loss, citing higher operating expenses due to measures expected to cut costs next year. Shufersal said it lost 96 million shekels ($28 million) in the July-September period, versus an 82 million shekel profit a year earlier. Revenue was up 0.2% to 3.81 billion shekels. The company said the quarterly loss stemmed from it implementing an efficiency plan that includes shifting part of its online operations to an automated delivery centre, a move it expects will save 250 million shekels in 2023.

Online sales slipped to 18.8% of total sales from 19.2% a year earlier. Its own private brand reached 26.7% of food retail sales. Revenue at its drugstore unit dipped 1.8% to 266 million shekels due to a drop in sales of COVID-related products.

Source: Reuters 

Ireland: Operating profit at Aldi Ireland down 44% as chain launches €75m expansion plan
Operating profits at the Irish arm of Aldi, which is plotting a major expansion in Dublin, topped €39 million in 2021, a 44 per cent decline from the previous year, as the German-owned supermarket chain grappled with higher prices and the disruption of Covid-19.

New accounts for Aldi Stores Ireland show that the chain achieved sales of close to €2 billion in 2021, up 1 per cent from the first pandemic year. This compared with the 14 per cent sales growth rate Aldi experienced in 2020, when consumers’ shopping habits were altered significantly by public health restrictions.

In a statement on Monday, the supermarket chain restated its ambition to expand its footprint in Dublin and reiterated that it is examining 25 sites as potential locations for 11 new stores, with plans to invest €75 million.

Source: IrishTimes 

UK: Tesco launches ‘reverse supermarket’ to help people suffering with food poverty
Tesco has launched a pop-up “reverse supermarket” in London to enable customers to help those suffering in the cost of living crisis. The Give Back Express, in Poland Street, was open over the weekend and saw visitors invited to buy and donate the 25 most needed items as identified by Tesco and its charity partners FareShare and the Trussell Trust.

Passers-by could also scan a QR code located outside the store to make a monetary donation through their Clubcard vouchers, or online. The move comes with FareShare and the Trussell Trust reporting they expect to provide food support to more than 1.2 million people this winter. FareShare forecasts it will redistribute more than 13,000 tonnes of food to people this winter, while the Trussell Trust reported that 320,000 people used a food bank for the first time between April to September this year, with the need continuing to rise.

Source: Grocer 

Singapore: Increased online spend expected for grocery and personal care items this holiday season
A survey by Amazon Singapore, in collaboration with YouGov, revealed that shoppers in Singapore are likely to be more pragmatic and price-conscious this holiday season in light of current global conditions. Nevertheless, Singaporean shoppers are still looking to spend more on essential and personal care items like groceries and apparel this holiday season.

The survey of 1,032 Singaporeans sought to understand local consumers’ shopping behaviour, as well as their views towards local brands and giving to social causes this holiday season. Online shoppers are expected to still spend more on Grocery, Apparel, Health and Personal Care items, despite a relatively conservative holiday shopping mood brought about by global economic conditions.

The survey also found that more than half of online shoppers are likely to be more conservative with their spending this holiday season in light of current global economic conditions, with 57% of shoppers saying they will spend less (or buy from cheaper brands) or wait until there is more stability before making large purchases.

Source: Macau Business 

UK: Waitrose has a new customer director
Nathan Ansell has been appointed as the new customer director for Waitrose, to replace Martin George. Former M&S Marketing Director Ansell will join Waitrose in January 2023 having previously worked at Marks & Spencer as marketing director. Ansell spent more than nine years at M&S.

Source: RetailAnalysis 

US: How retailers are using automation platforms to increase labor retention
Ongoing challenges in a tight labor market have been forcing supermarket retailers to rethink their strategies around recruiting and retention, as well as their overall standard operating procedures, in an effort to keep rising labor costs in check.

Increasingly, they’ve turned to technology to help them in these efforts, including recruiting platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn, as well as onboarding and training technologies that can help in retention and automated solutions that can make their labor more productive.

In a recent report on the grocery labor market called “Crisis or opportunity? How grocers can win the talent war,” consulting firm McKinsey & Co. said the labor model in the food retailing industry is evolving, particularly as consumer demands for ecommerce remain strong and cost pressures remain high.

Source: Supermarketnews 

US: Kroger-Albertsons merger faces more scrutiny from Congress
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, Reps. Adam Smith (D., Wash.), Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) and David Cicilline (D., R.I.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, called on the FTC to “closely evaluate” the competitive impact of the transaction. A Senate hearing will be held Tuesday to examine competitive implications of blockbuster proposed grocery deal.

“This acquisition threatens to create competition-stifling concentration in markets across the country, hurting consumers, workers and small businesses. Kroger’s proposed acquisition of Albertsons presents several anticompetitive concerns,” the lawmakers said in the Nov. 21 letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan. “For consumers, the consolidated grocery chain could offer fewer product choices and higher costs for essential goods. For workers, the acquisition could impair bargaining power for fair wages and safe working conditions in local communities. For small- and medium-sized grocers, this acquisition could diminish their already strained resources and drive up supply costs.”

Source: Winsight Grocery Business 

US: Retailers on track for record Cyber Monday according to Adobe Analytics
Spending on Cyber Monday, the biggest U.S. online shopping day, may hit a record $11.6 billion according to one preliminary estimate, as discounts on everything from pajamas to AirPods tempt shoppers to click "buy" despite the strain on household budgets from high inflation.

The estimate from Adobe Analytics predicts an increase of up to 8.5% from a year earlier. Much of the increase could be put down to inflation, which rose 7.7% in October, the lowest since January. "If you exclude inflation, which has been running in high-single-digits, you come to a flattish number in real terms which would really not be too bad," Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman said.

Adobe Analytics measures e-commerce performance by analyzing purchases at 85% of the top 100 internet retailers in the United States.

Source: Reuters 

US: Walmart, Costco are Black Friday winners while Target sees light in-store traffic
Inflation has weighed on consumer discretionary spending in recent quarters. Rising prices may create an opportunity for discount retailers to gain market share this holiday shopping season, according to Bank of America analyst Robert Ohmes.

Consumers spent a record $9.12 billion online on Black Friday this year, according to Adobe. Online Black Friday sales were up 2.3% from a year ago, with 48% of online orders taking place on smartphones. While sales were strong, budget-minded consumers are prioritizing promotions and seeking specific deals, Ohmes says. As a result, Walmart Inc took an aggressive approach to Black Friday discounts that appear to have paid off.