Euroshop 2014 Special Article No. 2
EuroShop 2014: Stable Energy Costs in the Retail Sector
Retailers focus on measures to optimize energy use, covers for refrigerated cabinets and eco-friendly refrigeration methods
Refrigeration alone will occupy 204,500 square feet of net exhibition space at EuroShop 2014
While in the past energy costs for retailers have been continually increasing, the majority of retailers in 2012 recorded stable developments in energy costs compared with the previous year. This was the result of a study published last year by the EHI Retail Institute on energy management in the retail sector. Retailers felt that this was largely due to the relatively minimal increase in the EEC levy, rising from 3.53 eurocents per kilowatt hour in 2011 to 3.59 in 2012. Another factor with a positive impact was the very good purchase price for electricity in 2012.
Refrigeration in the food sector
Cost reduction and improved cost effectiveness are as important for food retailers as they are everywhere else. Among the food retailers surveyed by EHI, one issue that was especially at relevant for them was the question of energy optimization – an area with the greatest amount of energy consumption, at 41%. Many food retailers had to increase the refrigerated sections of their stores in order to provide larger service areas, including a growing range of pre-packed goods and convenience products requiring mandatory refrigeration as well as an ongoing expansion of dairy products and deep-freeze product ranges. This trend is set to continue and, in particular, will add special significance to energy savings projects in refrigeration technology.
A variety of options are available to reduce energy costs in the operation of refrigeration units. Some are relatively simple, such as the correct placement of products within refrigeration cabinets, regular servicing and the correct positioning of units within the shop, while other measures are more cost-intensive, such as putting covers on cabinets.
Covers for refrigeration cabinets
According to various calculations, freezer cabinets with glass covers require up to 50% less energy, and chillers can save up to 35% under standard operation. Therefore, it could be assumed that retailers are willing to invest in such covers. It is indeed standard practice among the surveyed retailers to ensure properly enclosed refrigeration (covers, doors, night-time blinds, etc) for their freezer cabinets. However, when it comes to standard chillers, only just over half of all surveyed retailers use covers, and indeed not even nationwide, but only in some pilot markets.
So the question is as to why that is the case. Covers are still a sensitive issue, as the use of enclosed units means losing the positive aspect of an unobstructed sales-promoting product presentation. Many retailers are concerned that a cover will put customers off. They are particularly worried when it comes to dairy and other fast-moving products. This presents a problem between those responsible for energy issues in a retail company and those in the sales department, as it means choosing between energy efficiency and reliable sales. Another disadvantage seen by retailers is the more complex handling procedure since a covered refrigeration unit is more difficult to fill with products.
When conducting refurbishments or building new facilities, 40% of the retailers surveyed by EHI decided to put covers on their normal chillers. To identify the impact of covers, these companies either asked firms to conduct studies or they commissioned such studies to be conducted as part of undergraduate or master’s theses. The result showed that those retailers did not in fact record any decline in sales at all. Instead, customers responded very favorably since it was less cold around the relevant cabinets and they therefore continued to look at the products longer. Also, the units were tidier and the covers suggested that the products were of a higher quality.
Retailers who opted for covers on normal chillers at all their new or refurbished facilities clearly felt that the benefits outweighed the drawbacks. In summary, the following benefits were mentioned:
- No cold air escapes from the units.
- Customers linger outside units for longer periods of time.
- Customers perceive better product quality.
- Less messy product presentation within the units since the products are not moved around as much.
- The shop generally gives the impression of higher quality.
- The retailer signals environmental awareness.
The disadvantage is seen in the more difficult handling procedure for staff when filling the refrigeration units.
The comparison shows that open refrigeration cabinets are always a compromise between providing a buying incentive and reducing energy consumption. To encourage customers to take products out immediately, retailers often accept substantial losses in energy. In practice, it is a matter of finding the right balance between a sales-promoting product presentation, the required product-specific temperatures and today’s demand for low energy requirements.
In view of rising energy costs, climate change and a transformation in customers’ environmental awareness, covers on refrigeration cabinets are likely to become inevitable. It is probably only a matter of time before appropriate legal requirements will be implemented. As soon as all retailers use covers, no one will be able to argue that they might lose out against competitors. All that is required is a few courageous pioneers who will set a positive sign and thus the direction for the future.
When retailers replace their refrigeration cabinets, they choose units that meet contemporary requirements in terms of energy balance and refrigerants, as eco-friendly refrigeration is becoming more and more important due to the climate change issue.
The German, Austrian and Swiss retailer that took part in the EHI survey opted for the following combinations of refrigerants as their standard for all new facilities and refurbishment projects:
- 43% want to use R-744 for deep freezers and R-134a for chillers.
- 31% prefer transcritical systems, i.e. with the use of R-744 for both deep freezers and chillers.
- 26% will continue to use conventional refrigerants, especially R-404A and R-134a.
However, it must be noted that discount stores were not included in the survey. The high proportion of natural refrigerants is partly due to their relatively widespread use among Swiss companies, in particular, for the last few years, while German retailers are still rather reluctant.
EuroShop 2014, The World’s Leading Retail Trade Fair, will showcase a wide range of innovative refrigeration units and solutions. The refrigeration section will be bigger than in the past, with approximately 160 international exhibitors occupying 204,500 square feet of net exhibition space.
EuroShop 2014 will be held from February 16 - 20, 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Show hours are from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. For further information and entrance passes visit www.euroshop-tradefair.com
For EuroShop 2014 press information, contact:
Tel. (312) 781-5185