Delis continue to drive fresh growth at retail, capturing 17% of total grocery dollars in 2016 ending Oct. 29, according to Grocery Headquarters.
Total deli sales and volume each rose 3.9% in that period.
Healthy growth came in segments of prepared foods — which had 59.1% of department sales, meat — which had 20.1% of sales, and cheese — which had 16.7% of sales.
The past few years have seen increasing demand for fresh, store-prepared food, whether it's deli items, pre-prepped salads in the produce section, or fresh-from-the-oven items in the bakery.
Each of those departments can be difficult to do right, and customer disappointment in any of them can drive shoppers from stores. Some consumers will reject the entire deli department if they experience questionable meat quality or appearance.
To earn their nearly-one-fifth of a store's sales, delis have to be done right. Part of that means having well-trained staff, motivated department managers, and attentive store managers to assist customers. Stores should also push the deli amenities they offer, such as hot and cold prepared food stations, and look for potential improvements.
Consumers today expect more from grocery stores then they did even five years ago. To keep up deli sales, retailers should seek out ways to overlap with the restaurant space and increased hospitality.