Kroger’s three Charlottesville-area stores retain a significant sales and market share lead, besting 16 competitors, according to the most recent report from an industry publication.
Including Kroger, Maryland-based trade publication Food World ranked 17 stores in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Overall, the stores generated $403.1 million in sales.
Food World said the area’s Kroger stores had $106.2 million in sales last year and captured about 26 percent of the area market. Harris Teeter was second, with $56.6 million in sales and about 14 percent of the market.
Food Lion was third, with $41.8 million in sales and about 10.4 percent of the market, followed closely by Giant in fourth place, with $40.4 million in sales and about 10 percent of the market. Members-only Sam’s Club rounded out the top five, with $26.7 million in sales and about 6.6 percent of the market.
To calculate the numbers for the 36th annual study, Food World analyzed a 12-month period from April 2013 through March. To qualify for inclusion in the study, supermarkets must operate at least two stores, and convenience stores must have at least 20 units, although they don’t all have to be within the market region. Fuel sales were not included.
In January, Kroger completed its acquisition of Harris Teeter, which also has three stores in the area. With six stores under the same corporate umbrella, their dominance of the area’s grocery market is likely to continue, said Terri Maloney, a Food World spokeswoman.
Maloney, who described Kroger as “one of the best supermarket organizations in the country,” said any challenger looking to unseat the company as the region’s leading grocer will face a formidable challenge, a sentiment echoed by Elliott Weiss, a professor at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.
“I see no reason for the Kroger/Harris Teeter dominance to not continue,” Weiss said in an email. “As long as Kroger decides to keep all six stores open, and I do not see why not, they will continue their strong showing. Given that they appeal to different customer bases, there are little efficiencies to be gained by closing a store.”
Carl York, a spokesman for Kroger Mid-Atlantic, described Charlottesville as “a very important market” to the company.
“We have great associates who care about our customers and we continue to follow our Customer First strategy that has worked so well for us,” York said in an email. “Additionally, we are continuing to improve our facilities and are focused on providing a great shopping experience for our loyal shoppers.”
The Fresh Market, which came in 10th in Food World’s 2012-13 analysis, slipped to No. 11 in this year’s study with $12.4 million in sales and about 3 percent of the local market. Target took this year’s No. 10 spot, with $13.5 million in sales and about 3.4 percent of the market.
North Carolina-based Fresh Market, Maloney said, “had a tough year with same-store sales declining, which is why they slipped a bit. If they can address their problems with sales, they should certainly have an opportunity to return to the top 10. However, with Wegmans coming to Charlottesville, retailers like The Fresh Market will certainly be impacted.”
A spokesman for Wegmans, a New York-based grocer, recently confirmed plans to open a store in 2016 at Fifth Street Station, a planned shopping center in Albemarle County. Costco, a members-only warehouse club, plans to open next year at the Shops at Stonefield.
In the meantime, two local grocers recently went out of business — Anderson’s Carriage Food House and C’ville Market closed at the end of May.
“Anytime a store closes, their business must go elsewhere,” Weiss said. “To the extent that these stores competed on freshness and local sourcing rather than price, I would see some of their business going to places like Whole Foods and Fresh Market.”