Breaking into breakfast sales

Grocers know how to get the lunch crowd, but how about the most important meal of the day?

Breakfast-Nov13

It’s Sunday morning at Freson Bros.’ Fresh Market store in Stony Plain, Alta., and already there are groups, at tables that seat 16, chowing down on the retailer’s weekend breakfast buffet of pancakes and grilled tomatoes and mushrooms.

Across the country, at a T&T Supermarket in Toronto, breakfast is also being served. Except, in this case its Asian dim sum fare such as congee (rice porridge) and sticky rice rolls.

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Both represent a growing trend among grocers to provide breakfast in-store and to further create a “one-stop shopping experience” for their customers, says Joyce Leung, assistant marketing manager at T&T Supermarket in Toronto.

Doug Lovsin, VP of operations at Freson Bros., agrees. Lovsin started serving breakfast at the Stony Plain store after noticing there wasn’t a good place to each brunch after church on Sunday.

The grocer’s 75-seat restaurant, complete with fireplace and home-cooked Albertan fare, serves everything from eggs Benedict to store-made German garlic sausage.

On weekends, when people have more free time, breakfast at the store becomes “a gathering moment” for customers.

What’s more, “the Alberta market enjoys breakfast buffets, Lovsin says. Some customers, he says, come solely for the breakfast; others combine their breakfast with grocery shopping.

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Buffet items at Fresh Market are sold by weight at $2 per 100 grams. Selling breakfast by weight encourages people to buy only what they plan to eat and dramatically reduces leftovers, Lovsin says.

The breakfast buffet has proven so popular that retailers such as Freson are even looking to expand breakfast offerings during the week with convenient, grab-and-go options such as an egg sandwich. Freson is also exploring the addition of a made-to-order breakfast service.

For others, such as Quality Foods in Qualicum Beach, B.C., in-store breakfast is seen as a standalone, profitable venture and not just as a way to get customers in the store.

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Co-owner John Briuolo says his Perk Avenue restaurant serves breakfast daily and attracts regulars such as Mounties and city workers with specials such as bacon, eggs, potatoes, toast and coffee for $5.99.

“Because it’s a small town, most of the restaurants are closed [for breakfast] so we capture that,” Briuolo says.