Big retailers are sizing down, with supermarket brand IGA and furniture retailer Ikea both offering up small scale versions of their stores.
IGA has announced it will be opening up and rebranding 400 stores across the country as IGA Local Grocers – a small-format supermarket under 500 square metres.
“We try as much as we can to tailor it, so that customers aren’t having to go to the back of the store for things that they need,” store owner Aba Elyas said.
Elyas owns IGA Local Grocer’s newest store in the Melbourne suburb of Cremorne.
“There’s no bulky produce bins that are in the way when they (customers) walk in, that they have to walk around,” Elyas said.
“It’s super easily set out, easy to find things and super convenient for them.”
The store is situated within a new business hub filled with workers, so the layout has been designed to suit the customer base.
“As they walk in, there’s plenty of grab-and-go lunch options,” Elyas said.
“There’s pastries, there’s curry, you know, really good healthy salad options, sandwiches we make in-store.
“We get I think 30 or 40 per cent of the immediate vicinity, who all come in here at least once or twice a day to grab a coffee in the morning, come grab a bite for lunch, or pick up something when they finish work.”
Similar to small scale supermarkets offered by Woolworths, Coles and Aldi, IGA began working on its concept before the pandemic.
Danielle Jenkinson, who is the general manager of retail for Metcash, which owns IGA, said: “We first saw the trend before the pandemic began that people were doing smaller, more frequent shops.
“And it was something that was really emerging.
“You can expect a small store for starters and reduced ranges.
“But the essential items are going to be in these stores.”
The store focuses on stocking local producers, as well as supporting other local businesses.
Hannah Hughes owns Hughes & Co Barbers across the road.
“I run a barber shop just across the road and so we come in here for all of our supplies, lunch, coffee, any last-minute things that we need,” she said.
“I think because it’s smaller, they seem to have the best of all the produce.
“So like, the best brands and really fresh produce.”
It’s not just supermarkets sizing down, with big retailers also moving to boutique tailored stores.
Josh Lloyd, the store manager for Ikea’s new Plan and Order Point in Melbourne’s Highpoint Shopping Centre, said “you won’t find meatballs” at his store.
“A normal Ikea is between 25,000 and 30,000 square metres. This one here is about 350 square metres. So it’s a super, super small footprint,” Lloyd said.
The latest offering from Ikea allows customers to design and order products from the range, which are then delivered to their home or available for pick-up from designated locations.
“So this is all about helping customers with those more complex purchases, like kitchens and wardrobes,” Lloyd explained.
“Given our size, you won’t get lost in this store. There’s no maze.
“It’s very simple and straightforward and our co-workers are here to help customers through that journey.”
The Swedish furniture giant has plans for similar stores across the world.
“This is step number one. So we’ll take some learnings from this site and test and try different things as well as input from other markets across the globe,” Lloyd said.
With retail trends changing, it’s likely smaller stores will continue to pop up in high and medium density areas.
“This is a great example of large supermarkets and big box retailers responding to emerging social trends,” Professor Gary Mortimer said.
Mortimer is a retail expert from the Queensland University of Technology.
“Having a smaller format store certainly enables you to curate a range for a particular demographic or a suburb profile,” he said.
“That means manipulating the ranges, putting in different ranges that might respond to different communities, tastes and likes.
“Certainly with busy consumers, busy families, the notion of grab-and-go, get in, get out and convenience retailing is certainly growing.”
Extracted from 9news