Before you reach your hand into an open air supermarket refrigeration unit, think about how much energy is being wasted to make the fresh and frozen food displayed there look more attractive and accessible.
A study being made by the Kansas City campus of the University of Missouri is finding that not only do supermarkets spend more than 50% of their total energy costs on food and beverage refrigeration, but a large percentage of this amount is due to food being stored in open front or open top units, just to make the food more attractive to customers. With so much attention being made these days regarding increasing energy costs, and effects of the earth’s ozone layers by gases from refrigeration units, it seems that more efforts should be made to induce large supermarkets use closed door refrigeration units, instead of those which display frozen foods, fresh meat and dairy products, and other items. While closed door units may not be as attractive, they would greatly decrease the stores’ energy bills.
Large supermarket chains are afraid to use closed glass door refrigeration units as they are afraid that they will reduce the impulse buying urge that shoppers have when they see all those frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, pastries, and other goodies on displayed in open air display cases. While this may be true to a certain extent, in today’s current tight economy, a little prudence might be a good idea anyway; and it isnâ€™t a big deal to open a closed display case to take out desired food items. Closed door refrigeration units are usually the norm anyway in the thousands of gas station and similar convenience stores in not only North America, but in many other countries as well. And these stores sell more than their share of refrigerated food and beverage items on a 24 hour a day, seven days a week basis.
In order to try to prove that closed door refrigeration units do not hurt store profitability, a number of large supermarkets in several states have agreed to switch to closed display cases as part of the U. of Missouri study. The stores will try this “new” method of merchandising for a period of months and their sales will be compared with similar sized stores who continue to use open air refrigeration cases. Shoppers will be surveyed to get their opinions regarding closed door refrigeration, and whether or not they feel inconvenienced or if something is “missing” from their daily or weekly supermarket shopping trips. By skewing bar codes on items taken out of closed or open air refrigeration units, the stores will be able to compare any measurable percentages between the stores with only closed door units and those with conventional open units.
The results could wind up creating a big a change in the shopping experience in supermarkets, and could save these stores as much or even more money than elimination of plastic grocery bags, already the norm in stores like Costco. Speaking of discount food chains, the Walmart discount chain is already going for closed door refrigeration units in its large “Super Center” stores which include large grocery departments.