FMS and NGA release their annual “Independent Grocers Financial Survey

Independent Grocers Financial Survey reveals the independent supermarket industry faced challenges in 2016 due to deflation

ARLINGTON, VA, 2017-May-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — FMS Solutions Holdings LLC (FMS) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) today (May 15, 2017)  released their annual “Independent Grocers Financial Survey,” the latest edition covering fiscal year 2016. The study, now in its 12th year, found Independent grocers reported that their sales were down 1.62 percent in 2016 compared to 2015.

Food at home deflation across all categories, especially in meat and dairy, had a negative impact for US retailers. As a result, independent grocers’ net profits were lower than one percent, at 0.98 percent compared to 1.44 percent in fiscal year 2015.Margins held steady at over 27 percent and expenses came out at 23.04 percent of sales in 2016. Independent grocers were able to manage their expenses despite labor and benefits increasing to its highest percentage of sales at 14.84 percent. The top 25 percentile, or the profit leaders, managed to grow their net profits over the previous year, showing an increase of 4.7 percent.

“While 2016 was a disappointing year for net profits, the independent grocer has proven its ability to recover in the past,” said Robert Graybill, president and CEO of FMS. “We expect to see some continued consolidation as a result of tough competition from both online and new brick and mortar retailers, but the flexibility and ingenuity of the independent is clear by the results of the profit leaders and serves as a beacon of direction that others can follow to excel as well.”

Falling unemployment and a higher turnover is one reason independents’ labor and benefits continue to increase. Independent grocers rated competition from other retailers as the biggest factor affecting their bottom line, and health care costs as the second most cited concern.

“The supermarket business is not for the faint of heart. Low profit margins and constantly changing consumer preferences make it challenging even for the best operators,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “But as independents continue to invest in their local communities and work diligently to stay ahead of rapidly changing consumer trends, they are differentiating themselves in a fiercely competitive marketplace to become shoppers’ stores of choice.”

The survey covered over 100 retailers in 33 US states and seven Canadian provinces. The study’s goals are to gauge the financial performance of independent grocers and put it context with economic, political, and competitive factors. This report also examines how the profit leaders operate their business differently, such as their inventory and shrink, and generate more net profit.

To view the executive summary of the report, click HERE.
To purchase the full survey, click HERE.

About FMS: 

FMS Solutions Holdings LLC — Since 1974, FMS has helped independent retail grocers succeed by transforming historic accounting activities into timely, accurate decision support tools. The company’s keen understanding of the challenges the industry faces has positioned it as the National Grocers Association’s (NGA) preferred provider of industry benchmarking, best practices and mission-critical decision support. To learn more about FMS, please visit

About NGA: 

The National Grocers Association (NGA) is the national trade association representing the retail and wholesale grocers that comprise the independent sector of the food distribution industry. An independent retailer is a privately owned or controlled food retail company operating a variety of formats. The independent grocery sector is accountable for close to one percent of the nation’s overall economy and is responsible for generating $131 billion in sales, 944,000 jobs, $30 billion in wages, and $27 billion in taxes. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers, state grocers associations, as well as manufacturers and service suppliers. For more information about NGA, visit

Tel: (703) 516-0700
Fax: (703) 516-0115

Source: NGA

The National Grocers Association and FMS Solutions released the results of their joint 2014 Independent Grocers Financial Survey covering fiscal year 2013

Arlington, VA, 2014-9-10 — /EPR Retail News/ — The National Grocers Association (NGA) and FMS Solutions today released the results of their joint 2014 Independent Grocers Financial Survey, covering fiscal year 2013. Independents’ financial performance much mirrored the nation’s economy which showed modest growth and both ups and downs in consumer, financial and market performance indicators. Some retailers managed to grow sales, margins and profits whereas others handed back some of the gains accomplished in fiscal year 2012.

Independent grocers indicated 2013 was a challenging year with competitive pressures rising to new heights. “Competition in our industry will always be fierce,” says Peter J. Larkin, President and CEO, National Grocers Association. “In addition to supercenters and conventional supermarkets, we’ve seen a variety of other formats, like dollar stores and price impact stores that are all competing for the food dollar. But, as always, entrepreneurial independent grocers continue to adapt and rebound in what remains to be a tough recovery for our economy.”

In a difficult competitive and economic environment, independent grocers managed to hold the line on same-store sales growth. They duplicated last year’s modest inflation-adjusted increase of 0.2 percent. Multi-store operators improved their sales gains compared with last year, whereas single-store operators lost ground. With rising gas prices, particularly in the second half of 2013, consumers took fewer trips (10,704 transactions per store, per week) but spent a little more on average ($24.38) when in the store.

Reflecting an improvement in inventory management, total store turns increased to 18.6. Single-store operators managed to hold the line on margins, whereas multi-store operators fell back to 2010 levels – taking the average total-store margin down just slightly to 26.12 percent of sales.

Total expenses rose for the third consecutive year – predominantly driven by an increase in labor and benefits, and utilities. Healthcare costs rose by an average of 10.1 percent over 2013 with more than eight in 10 independents reporting expense increases. “The rising costs of providing healthcare is of great concern to independents,” Larkin noted.

Flat sales growth combined with slightly tighter margins and higher expenses resulted in a slight drop in net profits among independents as a group to 1.51 percent overall. Single-store operators fared better with an average net profit of 1.63 percent. The report’s review of the top 25 percentile in terms of net profits revealed a group of independents that managed to outperform the rest by a wide margin. These profit leaders more than doubled the national average at 4.10 percent. “The profit leaders outperformed the rest in nearly every benchmark, including sales, margins, asset performance, and expenses control,” says Robert Graybill, president and CEO of FMS. “By investing back into their companies in good and bad economic times, yet keeping long-term liabilities and expenses in check, they extended their lead compared with prior years and far outperformed the publicly-traded grocers.”

In addition to sales distribution and gross margin data by department, the report also provides detailed financial information by region, store sales volume and profit leaders. The general section of the report includes a thorough review of the nation’s economic and political landscapes and how they impact independent food retailers.

The 2014 Independent Grocers Financial Survey is based on data from 143 independent grocers. To purchase the report click HERE.

If you need additional information, please contact Laura Strange at 703-516-8808.