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Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has strong Q1; plans 15 new stores

BY Dan Berthiaume

Lakewood, Colo. — Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, Inc. had a strong first quarter of fiscal 2014, reporting increases in both net income and net sales. Net income rose 31.6% to $2.9 million from about $2.2 million and net sales grew 25.8% to $120.6 million from $95.8 million.

A $14.6 million increase in sales from new stores and a 10.6%, increase in same-store sales drove Natural Grocers’ net sales growth. Looking ahead, the company plans to open a total 15 stores in fiscal year 2014 and expects to remodel two existing stores.

As of this release, Natural Grocers has signed leases for 10 of the remaining 11 stores it plans to open in fiscal year 2014 for locations in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.

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Shell launches social contest for loyalty members

BY Dan Berthiaume

Houston – Shell has launched “How I FRN,” a contest that invites consumers to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the Shell Fuel Rewards Network (FRN) loyalty program. Consumers are encouraged to think creatively about how they might be able to demonstrate their experience with and understanding of the program, as Shell will be selecting one weekly winner per week, along with a grand prize winner, first runner-up and second runner-up whose entries best convey the features and benefits of the FRN program.

From Jan. 31 through March 14, FRN members are invited to submit a photograph or video via Instagram or Twitter that represents the individual’s experience with the FRN program. To be eligible for a prize, each entry must be tagged with the official How I FRN Contest hashtag: #HowIFRN, and must also be accompanied by a brief caption describing how the FRN member uses or plans to use the FRN program to save.

"We’re excited to see the creative and cost-effective ways our customers interact with the FRN program," says Jim Perkins, North American marketing alliance manager at Shell. "As we start out the new year Shell knows that saving money is a top priority, and we’re excited to provide the opportunity for drivers to win big just by showing us how they save through the program."

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Survey: More consumers eating take-out food

BY Dan Berthiaume

Jacksonville, Fla. – Shoppers are increasing eating out by actually eating in as they take advantage of ready-to-eat foods and meal solution offerings from grocery stores, quick-serve restaurants, food delivery and take away. A new study from AMG Strategic Advisors, “The Why? Behind the Buy,” shows that Millennials are most likely to use prepared food for meal solutions, but overall, 77% of total U.S. shoppers reported eating out in the past month.

In addition, 66% brought home prepared foods and 65% bought food at a restaurant drive through. Sixty-four percent ordered food from a restaurant for pick-up/carryout. Breakfast and snacking has seen the most growth in away from home eating.

The report also reveals that technology use for grocery shopping is catching up to other retail shopping. Among the top digital tactics are printing coupons online before shopping (30% of shoppers), loading coupons onto shopper cards from a website (26% of shoppers) and viewing a store’s digital circular (26% of shoppers). It also provides valuable data on the continued growth of the Millennial influence, as this group is projected to outspend the Boomer generation by 2020 with $65 billion in grocery spending shifting from Boomers to Millennials.

“We’re seeing the shopping landscape evolving at an accelerated pace,” said Marianne Quinlan-Sacksteder, director of insights at AMG Strategic Advisors. “As various factors converge, namely shifts in shopping and spending as generations mature and embrace different values and lifestyles intersecting with the exploding digital landscape, manufacturers and retailers need to ensure they truly understand the implications of these changes and how to capitalize on these trends.”

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