In this period of economic and demographic fluctuation, US retailers are simultaneously stretching and shrinking their stores to promote convenience for shoppers and compete with online options, according to What's in Store, the annual trends publication from International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association.

Grocery shoppers continue to weather the recession and convenient shopping for the most vital of retail staples—food—is undergoing a metamorphosis. While larger retail outlets may see less traffic because many shoppers are buying more items online, some grocery retailers are reducing their footprint to squeeze into city locations. They, and some others, are expanding specific aspects of their stores, such as fresh offerings and tiered private label systems, to draw in customers, Reuters reported.

Drug and dollar stores are stepping up their fresh food offerings as shoppers change their routines from the early recession. Analysts note a behavioral shift as shoppers take frequent smaller fill-in trips to these venues between paychecks rather than hitting the club store once a month to buy in bulk. Shopper prioritization of value and health in food choices is sharpening as they hone their frugality out of necessity.

Food retailers are facing a strategic quandary amid increased demand for fresh foods and perishables at the same time that consumers are increasing online buying, says Tim O’Connor, vice president, RetailNet Group. "There’s always going to be a physical component for fresh food because that’s what people perceive as fresh and immediate," O’Connor says. Retailers need to build trust with online shoppers through a friendly personal tool that remembers what you normally buy online. Retailers must also deliver high-quality fresh foods to maintain consumer trust in the online shopping method, he added.