The Cameron Village Harris Teeter is recovering from a month that saw sales of Natural Light and Cook’s Rosé hit an all-time high. The popular grocery store did over $6 million in sales just from those two products in the month of August. The spike in sales can be traced to the return of area college students.
According to store manager John Clifford, Harris Teeter employees have spent the last few weeks in a continuous loop of checking suspicious out-of-state IDs, restocking shelves with Natural Light and Cook’s Rosé, and retrieving shopping carts that had been left stranded throughout the parking lot.
“The crowds were large, but nowhere near as large as when local meteorologists incorrectly predict we’ll get 3 inches of snow,” said Clifford, who was glad to see the students return.
Zack Smith, a sophomore at NC State, was glad he could contribute to the record-setting month. “As a 21-year-old, who is 21 years old, it’s good to know we helped set a record. Natural Light is just so versatile. It’s great for flip cup, beer pong, tailgating, playing Fortnite, you name it,” he said, while loading 16 cases of Natural Light into a tan 2006 Tahoe.
Hunter Webster, a fraternity brother of Smith’s, added, “It’s also healthy. It’s like the La Croix of beers.”
Clifford implemented a few changes to make sure the store was prepared to capitalize on the influx of students.
For example, after checking out, students were given the chance to take a picture inside of a cardboard cutout of the Harris Teeter Instagram account with a caption that read, “Back to school shopping fam! HT so lit rn! #backtoschool #ht #cvht” An employee also handed out “We did it!” stickers to each shopper.
Clifford said that heaping praise on students for simply purchasing groceries was part of a customer retention strategy. “With all these food delivery companies popping up every week we realize it’s hard for these students to actually go shopping. We wanted to reward them and make their trip more of an experience.”
The strategy seemed to win over at least a few students. “I like that they made me feel like I accomplished something by going to the store on my own,” said Allison Morris, a junior at Meredith. Morris added that she “fell in love” with rosé during her summer session abroad in France.
With the record-setting month coming to a close, Clifford’s focus must now shift. “We’re excited about the record and we love having the students back. We made it through the first wave without any employees going on strike. Now we’re getting ready for Pumpkin Spice season, which starts tomorrow.”
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