Atlanta
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Atlanta’s retail scene brings the heat

BY Carol Radice

Dubbed Hotlanta for its infamously scorching summer temperatures, this moniker also easily could be applied to Atlanta’s red-hot economy. As is the case in many metro markets, the IT sector has been leading Atlanta’s growth pace. Finance, insurance and real estate, as well as the transportation, utilities and professional and business services sectors, are also making large contributions to Atlanta’s growth. For these reasons and more, Atlanta is often considered the economic engine of the state and of the Southeast. City officials said it is important to them that Atlanta be viewed as a business-friendly city.

Atlanta has proven itself as an attractive place for business relocation. A big part of that is the national and global connectivity provided by Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. For these and other reasons, such global companies as Porsche and Mercedes-Benz have their U.S. headquarters in Atlanta. Other companies that call this region home include NCR, GE and Honeywell, all of which have located their digital innovation centers here.

Its population growth, as well as its current and future job growth projections, handily outpace U.S. national averages, which is a signal to some that growth will continue to track upward for the next few years at a minimum. One trade magazine recently called out the Atlanta metro area as the No. 1 state to do business in, noting how Atlanta’s attractive low cost of doing business, combined with a job market that rivals Silicon Valley, Boston and New York City, helped push it to the top.

Competition for shoppers’ dollars is tight in this market, which means retailers need to bring their A-game to hold onto market share. Publix may lead in many markets in the South, but when it comes to Atlanta, Trader Joe’s is more often noted as the place customers love to shop. Trader Joe’s wins rave reviews from customers in this region for its friendly staff, healthy food choices and competitive prices. The wine, produce and floral departments are often cited for their great assortments and affordable prices, but customers said its Trader Joe’s eclectic frozen items, center store offerings and sampling program that keeps them coming back.

Also unique to this retail chain — if there’s a product customers want to try, all they have to do is ask an employee to open it. Company officials said this has been effective in boosting loyalty and increasing impulse purchases.

Rotating assortments and novel products are a great way to add excitement, but it can be hard for shoppers to keep up. To remedy this, the company has designed its store flyers, not to be a sales vehicle but an informative tool designed to teach shoppers about the products in the store. The flyers offer background information on some of its highlighted products, whether they are new or existing, but the real reason people love them is because they are written with a sense of humor and include interesting backstories on the products, they are so effective, that many shoppers walk around the store with the checklist from the back of the flyer, which encourages them to pick up everything on it.

Another area favorite is Kroger. One of its largest stores in Atlanta, the Kroger Marketplace on Glenwood Avenue South East, includes a drive-through pharmacy, gas station, urgent care clinic, Starbucks and an expanded housewares section called the Kitchen Place. It even has a bar in the store, featuring several local beers on tap and an Enomatic wine system with more than a dozen different wines sold by the glass. The bartenders at the “Krobar” are happy to offer samples of
anything customers would like to taste.

This location also boasts an expanded takeout area intended to go head-to-head with the likes of Publix and Chipotle. A sandwich bar and burrito station can also be found, along with the standard fried chicken fare.

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