WAG takes fresh food focus to a new level

Walgreens’ success with fresh foods has left the retailer hungry for more. In its flagship Chicago store, Walgreens has pumped up its fresh and prepared departments with a fully stocked sushi bar, grab-and-go deli offerings, self-serve yogurt, a juice bar, and fresh baked goods and confections from well-known local sources.

The format also contains a gourmet wine “store-within-a-store” that carries specialty cheeses and meat. With an eye to customer service, touch-screen kiosks are on-site — one to help customers select the appropriate wine, another to guide them in making the perfect cocktail.

One of its Duane Reade stores added a FreeZee slushie station and an oatmeal station.

The chain couldn’t be more on target. A recent report from the Hartman Group revealed that perishables and fresh food have been gaining share of grocery dollars for years. The market research firm says real opportunity exists in fresh, packaged food — what Hartman is calling the “third grocery sector.”