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Columns8 ways grocers are creating inclusive retail environments

8 ways grocers are creating inclusive retail environments

Retail Insights
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While we often look at the impact of megatrends such as technology, health and sustainability on the design of stores, retailers globally are also adjusting their formats to create more inclusive store environments.

What does it mean to be inclusive?

There’s a growing focus on making sure everyone feels welcome.

Grocery retail is seen as a leader and can set the trend in this area by providing the right experience for a diverse range of shoppers. It goes beyond accessibility, incorporating aspects like store design, customer communications and products to cater to a broad range of customers. Focusing on these elements can also help attract new shoppers, support recruitment and retention and bring brand purpose to life.

Inclusive retail considers various needs – physical, cultural, and beyond – to ensure that individuals of all ages, backgrounds and abilities enjoy an accommodating shopping experience. In some markets, inclusive elements are defined by local laws. Many retailers have gone beyond this, recognizing the social and economic benefits of creating more inclusive retail environments.

It’s worth noting that in some markets, certain aspects of inclusivity have an almost negligible presence in retail, due to different levels of progressiveness and cultural norms.

Age inclusivity

FairPrice’s White Sands store in Singapore has an active ageing offering to cater to its shoppers. More than half of shoppers at this store are aged 50 and above. Key features include elderly-friendly lighting and signage colours, large Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) for the fresh produce section, including red colour for promotions, and an active ageing area with a wide range of products and services, and clear labelling.


In the UK, M&S launched Trusted Adult training to help its 65,000 team members learn more about how to support the young people in their lives. The voluntary, online training has been created to help them develop skills to have conversations with young people about how they are feeling and provide help before reaching the point of crisis.


As part of its goal to be an inclusive retailer, Sainsbury’s in the UK launched “Thrive with Sainsbury’s,” an incubator program for black-led businesses. It has made a £1m commitment to support brands in their transition to being listed in its stores. This is designed to help them overcome obstacles such as inadequate funding, lack of social capital and networks, or limited industry knowledge and expertise.

Sexual orientation

Target has been one of the champions of Pride Month in the U.S. For more than 10 years, it has offered exclusive Pride merchandise featuring a broad assortment of inclusive products across a variety of categories. The Pride+ Business Council is one of eight Diversity and Inclusion Business Councils at Target.

Body image

To celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Beauty Mark campaign, which focused on educating consumers on the difference between authentic and digitally altered photos, CVS in the U.S. launched its “Role Model” initiative. This is aimed at highlighting the impact of filtered social media images on younger people and normalizing humanity’s imperfections.


Coop Italia’s supermarket in Monza, Italy, was one of the first to be developed as “Autism Friendly.” Features include acoustic-light regulation, the use of pictograms, and ensuring that autistic people and their companions have priority at the checkout.

Families with children

The Esselunga store in Fino Mornasco, Italy, provides a solution for parents who need to go shopping with their children. Parents can leave their kids with the staff who work in a children’s area, giving them time to do the shopping. Within the children’s area, there is a mini supermarket, which is a great touch to start getting them involved with all things food.

Socio-economic status

Sweden’s Axfood has supported the development of the first social-supermarket in the Nordics. The Matmissionen store sells donated surplus food from other stores, including foods near their expiration date or where the packaging has been damaged. Membership is granted to those with income support for the economically vulnerable.

Stewart Samuel is Director of Retail Futures at IGD

[email protected] |

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