Closing the Door: Reducing Energy Costs

from Supermarket News

While switching from fluorescent to LED or fiber optic lighting can help reduce energy costs and improve presentation in refrigerated cases, another way to accomplish this is to switch from an open case to one with doors.

Angeli's Central Market, a three-store independent based in Iron River, Michigan, recently replaced open dairy cases with three 40-foot runs of doored cases from Zero Zone, North Prairie, Wisconsin in its remodeled Menominee, Michigan store. The doored cases consume one-third as much electricity as their open predecessors, said Mike Jankovich, director of operations for Angeli's. “I'd say you could pay for the cases in three to four years just on the energy savings.”

Consumers like the change, Jankovich said. “They think products are fresher and colder behind the doors.” Moreover, the appearance of the case doesn't change as inventory draws down. “With bagged cheese, you can be down to two or three units, but it still looks great because shoppers don't know there's a gap behind it,” he noted. By contrast, open cases look best when they're fully stocked.

The doored cases also hold 12% to 15% more facings than the prior cases. In addition, the gaps between doors - the mullions - are just two to three inches, providing a wider look at products behind the glass doors, Jankovich noted. LED lighting is positioned along the mullions. He has not yet measured the sales impact of the new cases.

Last month, Dierbergs Markets, a 23-store chain based in Chesterfield, Montana, installed the same doored dairy cases, in two 10-foot, four-door sections in a store in St. Charles, Montana. “The all-glass look on the doors gives great exposure to the products,” which include natural organics and multi-pack yogurts, said Terry Ritchey, director of merchandising for Dierbergs.

In one set of doors, Dierbergs has achieved a 30% increase in facings, while the other set, merchandised differently, has a 15% increase. “The fact that we have a 30-inch shelf behind a 30-inch door gives us a great deal of flexibility,” Ritchey said. Dierbergs also has doored dairy cases from Hill Phoenix, Conyers, Ga., in several stores, which are being compared to the Zero Zone cases.

In another example of a food retailer converting to doored cases, Martin's Super Markets, South Bend, Ind., retrofitted 88 feet of upright open refrigeration display cases with new glass doors from Remis America. The chain plans to install the doors in about half of its 20 stores over the coming year.