Execs Target Market Share to Shake Tough Economic Conditions

Food execs' opinions reflect economic woes—and strategies to survive.

The first Retail Leader Business Conditions Survey found retailers feeling just as you might expect: uneasy. The survey was fielded to retail leaders in mid-July, as negotiations surrounding the exact height of the debt ceiling hit their ugly stride.

So it's no surprise that among retail executives surveyed during this time, only about half reported feeling optimistic concerning their business. Among the convenience, grocery/supermarket, drug, mass merchandise and specialty gourmet retail executives who responded to the electronic survey, a total of 26.1 percent described current business conditions as positive, while 30.7 percent called conditions negative and 43.2 percent remained neutral. Looking ahead to the coming six months, there is a bit more optimism—but only a bit, as just one-third of respondents expect business conditions to be positive.

How do retail leaders intend to face these challenges? About half say growth will come by improving their competitive share of market. Slightly more than one-quarter of respondents report plans to increase margins. And other respondents specified strategies focused on the customer, such as improving customer service and attracting new shoppers to the store, along with increased use of social media, marketing and promotion of store brands as their keys to business growth.