Giant Eagle seeks to make hybrid stores ''consumer friendly''

PITTSBURGH Giant Eagle plans to expand its mini-grocer/c-store/pharmacy hybrid into the Pittsburgh market this year, after making some final adjustments to the two-year live prototype — the 13,500-sq.-ft. Giant Eagle Express — according to published reports released Friday.

Many of the changes focus on making the format more consumer-friendly, such as  more seating for its cafe-style offering, where consumers can enjoy a coffee while surfing the Internet via Wi-Fi, or the placement of a cash register specifically for gas sales for motorists looking for the quick-in/quick-out gas purchase.

Other changes represent a tinkering with the product mix, tailoring a category offering from the full breadth available through the grocer’s core stores to more of a focused good-better-best selection that better suits the limited shelf space and a convenience-minded consumer. Also gone from the mix are certain staple items, like canned vegetables and certain frozen items. Instead, Giant Eagle has focused on more convenient-food wares — fresh produce and ready-to-eat soups, for example, and added prepared foods like sushi and sandwiches.The changes were based on feedback and an analysis of sales over the first several months, company officials reported.

The company hopes to open as many as five more Express stores in the coming two years, according to those reports, with the next one opening toward the end of the year.

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