OPERATIONS

Survey: Safeway, Wegman’s tops among grocers in customer service

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — Safeway and Wegman’s Food Markets ranked highest across all customer service elements, according to a survey by Empathica.

Empathica, a customer experience management solution-provider, polled more than 16,000 consumers, and found that operations and merchandise were the two most important elements in grocery shopping versus other elements such as promotions, people and technology.

While Wegman’s had the highest scores across all service elements, Trader Joe’s, Publix Super Markets, Harris Teeter and Whole Foods Market also ranked high across four out of the five service areas — yet falling short with promotions. The promotions category took into account loyalty programs, availability of coupons, as well as pricing, availability and frequency of promotions.

“In light of current economic conditions, grocery stores must pay attention to all service areas in order to preserve customer loyalty,” said Brian Jones, Empathica VP grocery. “Promotions are no exception.”

Although 48% of respondents consider electronic offers to be important, one-third felt those offers did not always meet their expectations, said Jones.

In Canada, Safeway had the highest score in meeting customer expectations across all service areas. Wal-Mart Stores ranked near the bottom of the list for operations, people and promotions among Canadians. In the United States, Wal-Mart ranked among the lowest in those same service areas, in addition to merchandise. A&P, C&S Wholesale Grocers and Unified Grocers also ranked among the lowest across all five service areas.

More than 85% of surveyed consumers indicated they will spend more or the same at grocery stores and supermarkets within the next three months. Additionally, more than half of consumers reported spending more than half of their grocery dollars at their primary supermarket.

“According to the survey, a considerable number of U.S. consumers shop at Wal-Mart for their groceries. In fact, more than one out of every four consumers shopped for groceries at Wal-Mart,” said Jones. “This is largely indicative of their prices.”

In the Midwest, the top five grocers based on overall customer experience were Giant Eagle, Meijer, Kroger, Hy-Vee and Aldi. The Northeast was topped by Wegmans, Delhaize America, Ahold USA, Wakefern Food Corp. and Giant Eagle.

In the south, Harris Teeter, Publix, Kroger, HEB and Safeway were the top five. And in the west it was Kroger, Safeway, Supervalu, Costco and WinCo.

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News

Survey: Halloween spending expected to be up

BY Staff Writer

Bellevue, NY — In a survey released Wednesday by thrift retailer Savers Inc., the average family is expected to spend $300 on Halloween costumes, décor and celebrations this year.

According to the Halloween Shopping Survey, 90% of adults are planning to create a brand new look this season rather than repurpose old costumes, and another 81% will purchase new decorations for their home.

However, more than half (54%) of people planning to dress up this year will either combine new and secondhand items or make their costume by hand in order to find value.

Among the Halloween trends revealed in the survey, which polled 1,000 adults, Savers found that, on average, people dressing up for Halloween spend 61 days planning and preparing their costumes. In fact, 13% will plan for Halloween a year or more ahead. Conversely, 20% wait until the very last minute to plan their costume.

Pet owners will spend $59 on average outfitting their pets this year. And parents on average will spend $32 on a child’s costume.

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REAL ESTATE

Nordstrom Rack, Esprit to locate at newly rebranded Outlets at Orange

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Orange, Calif. — Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group said that its Block at Orange shopping center will officially be rebranded as The Outlets at Orange.

The new name will signify its distinction as the only outlet and value retail destination in Orange County, Calif. Among the new retail names at the center will be Nordstrom Rack and Esprit.

“The Outlets at Orange will deliver a great mix of outlet retailers, as well as dining and entertainment choices, which aligns it better with The Mills’ overall unique brand of shopping,” said Gregg Goodman, president of the Mills, a division of Simon. “With the growing number of outlet brands already open and coming soon to this property, the new name better reflects our vision, which will offer long-term value to the tourism economy and the local market.”

Anticipated branding changes include new exterior signage, website, brochures and other promotional materials.

The Outlets at Orange, originally built in 1998, features 800,000 sq. ft. of retail space with nearly 100 outlet and value retail stores, restaurants and family entertainment venues. As part of the transformation, designer name brand outlet stores such as Calvin Klein, DKNY Company Store, Tommy Hilfiger Co. Store, Perry Ellis and Original Penguin have recently opened.

In addition, Esprit will open this fall, while Nordstrom has announced plans to open a 35,000-sq.-ft. Nordstrom Rack at The Outlets at Orange during spring 2012. More stores will be announced at a later date.

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