I recently read that CVS is doubling its food sections in thousands of stores this year as part of a new strategy to grab market share from supermarkets.
Retail consultants call this “channel blurring”. Yet another doublespeak that tries to get us to feel comfortable with how convoluted retail is becoming. The rationale for this combining of food and drugs is so that customers can get “what you want, when you want it”.
So that if you are filling a prescription for a yeast infection, you can also get a loaf of bread.
Supermarkets have had pharmacies in their stores for years, so perhaps putting the shoe on the other foot is certainly fair play. However, I have shopped in both these stores and also noticed that you can purchase, balloons, baskets, electric toothbrushes, books, DVDs and assorted other items that were once not indigenous to either store.
The so called “blurring” seems to be occurring in a variety of places not just in the food and drug markets. Bookstores sell music, stationary, pens, games, and have coffee, frappes and sweets. Gas stations sell food, newspapers, magazines, and often have a Dunkin Doughnut on premises. Coffee shops sell CDs, mugs, posters, lottery tickets, magazines and newspapers. Some physicians are now selling their own products.
I often find myself feeling overwhelmed and somewhat disoriented when I’m walking through aisle after aisle of stuff looking for something I need. Even if I find what I need, I have to go through tons of the same product that all have slightly different ingredients, but essentially do the same thing.
I often feel like I’m part of some weird experiment that is testing to see of I will end up sane after leaving the store.
I love shopping in small stores where meat, or cheese or wine and spirits are the only things sold and the salespeople are present and interested in what you need. I realize that big stores are in, and that Americans like the notion of “one stop shopping”.
Perhaps someone should consider building houses with all the aforementioned in them. Then we wouldn’t have to leave the premises, or if we get bored with our own stuff we can go next door and buy a cup of sugar from our neighbors.
Loretta LaRoche writes the Get a Life column for the Patriot Ledger.