In-Store Breakfast: Spur Sunrise Sales

With careful planning and presentation, in-store bakeries can boost sales as a go-to destination for fresh, convenient and healthy breakfast items.

“People are busier than they ever have been,” says Eric Richard, education coordinator at the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association. “Consumers go into a store and want to grab something they can find quickly.”

Last year, shoppers made more than 478 million visits to grocery stores for breakfast meals and snacks, according to research from The NPD Group. In addition, in-store dining and prepared food takeout have grown nearly 30 percent since 2008.  

Part of what’s fueling these numbers is consumers’ desire for meal options that fit into more balanced lifestyles. 

“We still have a segment of consumers gravitating toward more traditional breakfast items—donuts, bagels—but we also have consumers looking for products that fit into their specific lifestyle,” says Richard. “Some want more protein in their diet. Some are looking to cut down on preservatives. They’re looking to start the day with something to get energy and nutrition from.”

If your in-store bakery is looking to expand its breakfast business, these three tips can help.

Offer Hot and Fresh Ready-to-Go Items

People are busier than ever—on-the-go claims grew 214 percent between 2010 and 2015. Spark more sales with offerings that support this non-stop culture.

Ham, egg and cheese sandwiches, breakfast burritos and other morning meal items sold at Willy Street Co-op’s three Wisconsin locations have helped propel sales 10 to 15 percent in the past 18 months, according to Meat and Deli Category Manager Jeremy Johnson.

“It’s definitely a growing part of our business,” he says. 

Two Willy Street locations offer a self-serve bar with six hot breakfast items priced by the pound. To accommodate a significant portion of its clientele, the Madison location also offers vegan breakfast options. This, along with offerings being convenient and made from local and organic ingredients where possible, helps the store compete with local eateries.

“There are a lot of diners and bakery shops that do similar things, but it takes a bit more time to get stuff,” Johnson says. “We’ll have a breakfast sandwich ready, or people can just grab something from the hot bar; they don't have to wait.”

Become a Breakfast Destination

While portability is important, bakeries shouldn’t ignore the flipside of the breakfast renaissance: the in-store dining boom. Support hectic schedules by making it easy and appealing for consumers to grab breakfast before they do their shopping. Have tables and chairs available for customers to take a break from their busy day and enjoy their breakfast sandwiches, pastries, bagels and other morning staples right in the store, Richard suggests.

“More retailers are seeing the importance of the foodservice component—giving more of an interactive feel to [the store], and labeling themselves as a breakfast destination, rather than just a place to pull a bagel or donut out of a display case,” he says. “It could be as simple as just having a seating area close to the bakery or made-to-order coffee or breakfast sandwiches.”

In addition, stores can place a register or two near the bakery’s seating areas so that customers don’t have to walk all the way to the entrance to purchase their breakfast items.

Sunrise sales

Market the Right Food Claims

Including signs in the bakery area promoting breakfast products’ qualities, such as gluten-free or made with clean ingredients, can help stores attract label-conscious consumers.

In the past year, sales of bread and baked goods marked with a Non-GMO Project Verified seal increased about 23 percent, according to Food Insider Journal. Allergen-friendly options grew nearly 90 percent. 

“A bakery, for some, has a stigma of being unhealthy, [but] we’re seeing more consumers who are looking for unprocessed food free from preservatives gravitating toward in-store bakeries,” Richard says. “People are looking for simplicity. That’s what a bakery offers, really.”

At supermarket chain Stew Leonard’s, Bethy’s Bakery offers a variety of breakfast items, all free from preservatives, including apple cider donuts and bagels, which have helped bolster the store’s overall bottom line. Beth Leonard, who launched the bakery in her father’s Connecticut and New York chain, says that’s in part because the selection meets consumers’ demand for better-for-you baked goods. 

Beyond ingredient quality, portraying bakery offerings as artisanal can attract consumers seeking quality products and special breakfast experiences.

“Putting a focus on fresh products being made in stores gives consumers something unique—something more than they could get at a convenience store,” Richard says. “You can build a loyal consumer base that views it as a place to go for breakfast.”

Focus on Location

Stew Leonard’s bakeries are located at the front of stores. “It gets everybody hungry,” Leonard says. “You smell the bread coming out of the oven, and the bagels are being made right in front of you.”

While bakery managers may not be able to change their department’s location, they can use displays to prominently place breakfast items.

“Offering items in a display customers see when they walk in may grab some of the people who might not be thinking of a supermarket as a place to get those types of items,” Richard says. 

In-store bakeries that capitalize on this growing demand can transform their department into a popular, and profitable, breakfast spot.