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HomeGADGETSELECTRONICSTHE FRIDAY 5: Regional Retailers Represent; Kroger/Albertsons Keep Waiting

THE FRIDAY 5: Regional Retailers Represent; Kroger/Albertsons Keep Waiting

The past week brought news of new strategies, ALDI’s continued dominance

Stater Bros. is among Progressive Grocer’s eight Top Regionals.

Welcome to The Friday 5, Progressive Grocer’s new weekly roundup of the top news and trends in the food retail industry. Each Friday, we’ll take a look at the stories that are most important to our readers and also keep tabs on the trends that are poised to impact grocers.

1. Regionals Represent

Progressive Grocer unveiled its Top Regional Grocers this week, highlighting the fact that these smaller players can do all of the things their larger competitors find difficult. From offering a rich and rewarding customer experience via customizable salad bars and multicultural foodservice stations, to investing in retail media and personalization, these operators are kicking off the new year impressively.

Who made the list? Check out our full coverage of the eight Top Regionals worthy of the distinction.

2. Kroger and Albertsons Play the Waiting Game

The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. continue to make news, with the merger of two of the largest grocery stores in the United States no longer expected to be completed in March. According to a joint statement made by Kroger, Albertsons and C&S Wholesale Grocers LLC, their proposed merger and divestiture plan is now anticipated to close in the first half of Kroger’s fiscal 2024, which ends on Aug. 17, due to continuing dialog with regulators. 

News of the delay comes as the $24.6 billion grocery deal encounters even more pushback. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit on Jan. 15 to block the proposed merger. In the suit filed in King County Superior Court, Ferguson argued that the multibillion-dollar deal would harm consumers and raise prices, The Seattle Times reported.

Meijer cut the ribbon on its fifth small concept Fairfax Market in Cleveland, marking the first of its kind outside of the retailer’s home state of Michigan.

3. Scaling Down

Two retailers are minimizing their footprints – albeit in very different ways. For its part, regional grocer Meijer opened the Fairfax Market in Cleveland on Jan. 16, its fifth neighborhood market and the first outside of its home state of Michigan. Fairfax Market is a smaller-format grocery store operated by Meijer that focuses on bringing fresh food and value to customers in a market-like setting.

On the flip side, CVS has been forced to close dozens of pharmacies inside Target stores, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. The drug store chain will close the pharmacies between February and April this year, according to a company spokeswoman. The closures are part of CVS’s efforts to pare down its retail footprint “based on our evaluation of changes in population, consumer buying patterns and future health needs,” she said.

4. ALDI Continues to Dominate

While ALDI was named Progressive Grocer’s Retailer of the Year back in November, readers just keep sharing the news. U.S. consumers seeking relief from high grocery prices — and seeking premium products not found anywhere else — have become obsessed with shopping the grocer, and in August, the company gave some love right back to its fans when it unveiled plans to acquire Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers. 

The retailer also made news this week for its big play ahead of the Super Bowl, offering markdowns on all the fixings for a football feast. ALDI will give customers 25% off the most popular game day foods, including dips, pizza, meatballs and more.

5. Walmart Spotlights ‘Adaptive Retail’ Strategy

During the annual CES Show in Las Vegas, Walmart seized the stage to tell conference-goers where it sees the future of food retail going next – and all retailers should take heed. The retailer’s chief technologist, Suresh Kumar, explained the company’s new customer strategy as “adaptive retail.”

“While omnichannel retail has been around for decades, this new type of retail – adaptive retail – takes it a step further. It’s retail that is not only e-commerce or in-store, but a single, unified retail experience that seamlessly blends the best aspects of all channels. And for Walmart, adaptive retail is rooted in a clear focus on people,” Kumar said.  

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