The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Giant Eagle’s sudden announcement this week that it had severed ties with its longtime CEO ends the retailer’s relationship with a forward-thinking executive who drove significant innovation as leader of the supermarket and convenience store chain.
Laura Shapira Karet, a fourth-generation member of one of the company’s founding families who was a rare woman CEO in the grocery industry, positioned Giant Eagle as a technology-focused company intent on thriving by embracing change and pressing ahead with innovative projects.
In 2019, with Karet at the helm, Giant Eagle announced plans to open a technology hub in its hometown of Pittsburgh, part of what Karet described at the time as an effort to tap the city’s “deep and growing tech talent pool.” Also that year, Giant Eagle became one of the first retailers to test inventory robots in its store aisles.
The following year, Giant Eagle partnered with cashierless checkout technology provider Grabango to launch the first commercial deployment of the startup’s computer vision-based system at a GetGo Cafe+Market in Pittsburgh. Giant Eagle brought the technology to four more convenience stores in 2021.
In 2021, Giant Eagle became the first grocery and convenience store chain in the United States to accept PayPal and Venmo as payment methods at checkout counters in its stores.
Karet served as Giant Eagle’s CEO for more than a decade — a term that ended on Tuesday when the company said in a blunt emailed statement that it had “determined to separate [Karet] pursuant to her contract” without saying why. That evening, Karet indicated that she had departed on her own terms, saying in a statement that following “much consideration, I've decided to move on to the next chapter of my life and leave Giant Eagle.”
In case you missed it
Meijer adds new employee award
As part of the regional grocer’s latest awards season for its associates, the company introduced its first-ever Meijer Impact award. This honor highlights an “exceptional team’s accomplishments and extraordinary acts of service,” according to the press release.
The entire team at the distribution center in Tipp City, Ohio, received this new award for their quick response to a tornado last June that struck the facility.
The new award is an example of how grocers are finding additional ways to recognize exceptional work by store associates, facility workers and corporate staff.
The grocer also announced recipients of its existing awards, including seven individuals for the Legacy Awards, which honors impact on the company, teams, customers and community; six for the President’s Award for their significant business contributions over the past year; and the recipient of its Fred Meijer Award — the grocer’s highest honor.
Tuning in to a grocer’s new podcast
On Wednesday, Thrive Market debuted its first-ever podcast called “But Are You Thriving?” where listeners can sit down with the market’s co-founders, Nick Green and Gunnar Lovelace, to hear about health, wellness and sustainability.
The nine-episode show will release new segments every other Wednesday, according to an emailed press release, and feature a number of guest speakers.
Several retailers have created individual and original content to bolster their businesses. In February 2021, The Fresh Market launched a monthly magazine to highlight products, offer meal inspiration and feature company team members. Trader Joe’s also has an ongoing podcast called “Inside Trader Joe’s” and its Fearless Flyer, a free intermittent newsletter sent to shoppers throughout the year showcasing products and other fun Trader Joe’s-themed news.
Connecticut wine bill fizzles out
Connecticut is one of the few states that bans wine sales in grocery stores, and that’s how it’ll stay (for now).
On Tuesday, a bill aimed at permitting the sale of wine in grocery stores died in committee, according to local news reports. While supermarkets are disappointed by the outcome, package stores claim it is a victory for small businesses, NBC Connecticut reported.
This result comes just a few months after a new law took effect earlier this month in Colorado allowing wine sales in grocery stores.
Number of the week: 40%
That’s the percentage by which buy now, pay later (BNPL) online transactions involving groceries grew during the first two months of 2023, per newly released Adobe data. BNPL is gaining steam among online grocery consumers amid a rocky economic landscape.