Grocery stores have been getting by, but face headwinds that include fierce competition and increasingly cost-conscious customers.
The economic downturn changed the shopping habits of many region residents, said Strack & Van Til president Dave Wilkinson. Many lost jobs and couldn’t find new jobs that paid as much, so they cut back on their grocery spending.
They shopped around more to save money and bought some items at dollars stores or low-cost groceries such as Aldi. That has continued even as the economy has gradually recovered.
Competition also has ramped up in the grocery sector, Wilkinson said. Big box stores, dollar stores and even hardware stores such as Menards have been selling food products.
Despite the challenges, Strack & Van Til has continued to hire and maintain a workforce of about 5,800. The grocery chain also has invested in capital expenses, refurbishing a few of its stores to ensure that they remain inviting for customers.