Schnuck Markets is the latest grocer making big moves with small formats.
The grocer opened a new small-format store in Jasper, Indiana, on Wednesday called Schnucks Fresh that emphasizes — like the name suggests — its fresh departments. It arrives at a time when several food retailers are testing smaller and alternative formats.
Some grocers, like Schnucks, are having their smaller stores serve more as destinations for meals and fresh food. For example, Lowes Foods' upcoming entertainment-focused store in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area, will have nine foodservice stations, with some offering made-to-order or grab-and-go options.
Meanwhile, Sprouts Farmers Market has positioned its next-generation small-format model as more efficient for customers, while giving them a "treasure hunt shopping experience."
For some, going smaller is driven by size constraints, whether it's setting up shop at existing sites in rural communities, like Fareway, or downsizing to fit into urban environments. Meijer, for instance, has opted to shrink stores planned for both suburban and urban areas.
"Small" is also a relative term, depending on the grocer. At 18,000 square feet, Schnucks' new store in Jasper is roughly 30% the size of one of its typical locations. Meanwhile, Meijer's plans for a location in Orion Township, Michigan, would occupy roughly 90,000 square feet — roughly 45% the size of one of its superstores.
While grocers in the U.S. are increasingly turning their attention to downsizing, they still have some ways to go if they want to catch up to the proliferation of small formats abroad.
"In Europe, we've seen small formats fare a bit better. In the U.S., large formats have fared a bit better, just given, one, shopper perception and two, the way some restrictions have worked," said Tory Gundelach, senior vice president at Kantar Consulting, noting that retailers are often beholden to local restrictions and regulations when determining the size of a new location.
While the Jasper store is the only Schnucks Fresh at the moment, Ted Schnuck, the grocer's vice president of fresh and soon-to-be executive vice president of supermarkets, told the St. Louis Business Journal the grocer is considering expanding the format, especially in smaller towns and rural areas.
Here are four other grocers working on smaller formats this year: