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Are grocery stores decreasing their inventory in your area?

Except for the Whole Food wannabes I've noticed fewer product choices are starting to decline in the grocery stores I visit. Is this occurring elsewhere?

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  1. Yes!

    I was in a Kroger in my neighborhood (somewhat economically challenged) - I usually go to the one in another neighborhood since the selection is better. The one I seldom visit has dropped a massive number of products - very scaled down, just the basics. I often was able to get great deals there on the more "specialty" items that never sold...

    I've worked at grocery chains where the store had little say in adjusting the product mix and "plan-a-grams" for their particular client mix. It is frustrating watching things not sell and groceries becoming waste... So from that prospective I am glad that this chain finally adjusted their mix for the neighborhood. I'm a little bummed I won't be able to score great deals on the more unusual goods, but without the loss, perhaps we all will pay better rates?!

    I was in Big Lots last week and observed quite a few people examining the grocery section - obvious they had never looked at groceries there before, but were now exploring the idea due to the economy. I did a quick cruise through, but most was fairly processed and I tend to be a largely from scratch cook, so not much there for me. A few pastas and jams, most of the rest was not on my list...

    1. I'm seeing more space given over to prepared foods, even at Whole Foods. One more dumbsizing of our culture. People can't or won't even feed themselves.

      I can only imagine the food waste that prepared foods causes.

      How much of that stuff is thrown away at the end of each day? And, then those of us who do cook and make meals from scratch pay more for our ingredients to subsidize the take out crowd.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BostonZest

        most especially in the produce aisle, and fish counter.
        see the currently running thread "you don't like that?" many folks on that thread list categories of vegetables and other whole foods. my comments that the fussiness of the few is currently wreaking the variety of choice for the many were deleted. if you look at the veg options offered in the prepared foods trays, you will notice that it is only a few types of veggies.

        1. re: BostonZest

          I think it probably works the other way. Stores make far more money on the prepared foods and charge prices that are much higher than it would be for the ingredients for those prepared foods separately.

        2. Things like this are happening in all areas, not just restaurants and groceries. With the economy the way it is stores are getting rid of "slow" inventory and making room only for high turnover items.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hannaone

            Conversely, groceries seem to be stocking up on stuff that I DON'T want to buy. So we have a dozen different brands of boneless, skinless, reduced-flavor chicken breasts; ninety-eight types of fat-free frogurt which all taste identically bad; a wall of turkey/chicken hotdogs that taste like nothing; five-hundred feet of Coke products; and a beer case that's full of nothing but Bud and Lite beer. I finally got tired of finding nothing but 95% lean hamburger (which has slightly less flavor than a Dr. Scholl's Air-Pillow insole), bought a grinder, and started making my own with chuck, round, and fat trimmings. It's like trying to find food that DOESN'T have high-fructose corn syrup in it. You just have to try that much harder.

          2. Gah I hope not. Now that you said something I'll have to take a closer look next time I armor up for a full metal shopping trip. I live in the suburbs of Philly and am lucky enough to have a giant korean supermaket nearby. So much new produce to munch my way through. Plus the seafood!

            1. Yes for both the independents and chains I shop. The chain ($afeway) now has a wall of fat-free bolongne and a single rack of "other" meats as an example. The deli counters in the independents have reduced their selections from several dozen sandwich meats to predominantly "roasted turkey" and other low-sodium meats. I can still get German bolongne at both but there have been recent visits where they were out. I look at it as a lean time for them and they're catering to the numbers that are still coming in. Since I'm in the minority, I've expanded my circle of stores to assist in finding products that I do want still included in my diet. If $afeway were tracking individual cards as a way of seeing how their pricing and store layout designs have affected my buying patterns, they'd have some valuable data; apparently I was in the minority there, too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: The Ranger

                The result of these changes has affected my buying patterns. Since my local groceries no longer offer the "specialty" items I want, I visit them less often (going to ethnic stores more often) and so my "impulse" purchases are also going elsewhere.
                This is a win for the ethnic markets as they now get more of my dollars, including the "impulse" buys.

              2. it's only going to get worse. The decrease in fresh product and variety of other items is directly related to the current crisis in worldwide economies. Not only is there a shortage on some products, but the chains are reevaluating what they buy & stock.

                It's all about being cost effective. It no longer makes sense to stock items that won't sell due to their current retail price (e.g. less of the expensive cuts of beef & more of the economical) or just to offer excessive variety. Food shortages across the world is surely going to have an impact on us and we are just beginning to see it.

                Sustainability is going to be the battle cry for the future. Heard on a talk radio show today that by spending $1 on local product, $2-3 will end up back in the local economy. They claim that buying locally is the best way to improve the economy rather than buying from the mega stores where product has to be transported thousands of miles. The money spent on those items leaves the local economy and sometimes even the country, thus having no impact your local or national economy. And yes, according to the guy on the radio, it does make short term sense to buy things from the big guys in order to spend less on the item than you would locally, but it the long run it's not going to help the economy. What a mess!

                1 Reply
                1. re: oldbaycupcake

                  The other advantage of buying locally is that it costs less to truck those goods to the store. As opposed to hauling ethelene-treated rock-hard sickly pink tomatoes from SoCal all the way across the country, you can get a vine-ripened locally grown tomato for the same cost or a little more. Or better yet, grow the damned thing yourself. It isn't rocket science. I hardly ever buy dried herbs since I grow the fresh stuff in a small backyard garden and dry the surplus. And those tomatoes and peppers come in real handy when I need a salad.

                  If anything, the economic downturn will force people to rediscover "victory gardens" that their grandparents and great grandparents grew during the Depression and WWII.

                2. We might have to all consider stockpiling groceries.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Cheese Boy

                    We are stockpiling groceries and have for many years. It makes sense to buy stuff when it is on sale and in big quantities. Last weekend we bought 24 cans of beans (2 for $1) and chicken broth at .28 per can. If stuff is not on sale, we generally don't buy it. NY strip steak (whole) was on sale for $4.98 and we bought 2--had it cut in 8 oz. portions and we have about 24 meals for 2 for about $130 (and it is great meat)

                    A funny thing---Ramen noodles have more than doubled in price. When we found some on sale for 10 for $1 we bought 20--cheap lunch.

                    1. re: pepperqueen

                      When the avian flu scare hit a while back, we went into global pandemic fear mode and stockpiled dried beans and canned goods. It's always a smart idea to have a supply of cheap, long-shelf-life food in case of emergencies. The Latino bodegas and Asian markets have the best prices on bulk rice, beans, and dried foods, probably because those folks have been through famines and know what it's like to go hungry.

                  2. I have noticed the 2 large grocery stores near my home in Tempe, AZ are reducing thier hours.