Crucial times for Shoppers

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BatteryMill
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Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill » May 1st, 2016, 3:25 pm

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, a subsidiary of SuperValu, has almost been an outsider in the Greater Washington, D.C. grocery market for a while now.
For those not in the know, the chain was built on a "low warehouse pricing" promise which innovated in several ways, which in turn led to massive growth in the 1990s. The chain still expanded in the 2000s under SVU, when fifteen Metro stores near Baltimore were converted to Shoppers, as well as several miscellaneous new stores (with a new concept). There was a noticeable change to the stores by then, ditching the warehouse style and becoming more upscale, something similar to Harris Teeter. In recent times, the chain has mostly reversed this and adopted a new decor which evokes a more low-price face of the grocer.

In turn, however; the Shoppers business has seemed to spiral downwards into a malaise of more closed stores than new openings (only three have opened since 2007, one of which has closed!), a near-common brand identity and advertising with other SuperValu chains, and tough, competition in a crowded area that could grow some more, and lack of involvement. Even then, I would not want this chain to go under and instead return to their roots to better compete. They essentially went from being #3 in the competition to say... #10?

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by pseudo3d » May 1st, 2016, 7:50 pm

Wow, I didn't know that Shoppers had fallen that low. I was kind of under the impression that it was the third place to Safeway and Giant (like it apparently was?)

To be honest, I think there are several things at play here, partly because it received a lot of damage in the era of an overburdened SuperValu when they owned New Albertsons, and partly because the vanishing low-end grocer segment that was heavily eaten into by Aldi and Walmart (mostly the latter), killing or otherwise harming a lot of the more discount-oriented grocery chains that thrived in the segment (Winn-Dixie and Food Lion are victims of that).

Trying to go upscale than revert that is never good for a chain, I imagine that they may be on the sale block in the near future with spoils going to everyone (possibly some store sites for Publix, too).

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill » May 2nd, 2016, 3:31 pm

pseudo3d wrote:Wow, I didn't know that Shoppers had fallen that low. I was kind of under the impression that it was the third place to Safeway and Giant (like it apparently was?)

To be honest, I think there are several things at play here, partly because it received a lot of damage in the era of an overburdened SuperValu when they owned New Albertsons, and partly because the vanishing low-end grocer segment that was heavily eaten into by Aldi and Walmart (mostly the latter), killing or otherwise harming a lot of the more discount-oriented grocery chains that thrived in the segment (Winn-Dixie and Food Lion are victims of that).

Trying to go upscale than revert that is never good for a chain, I imagine that they may be on the sale block in the near future with spoils going to everyone (possibly some store sites for Publix, too).
Shoppers still does have locations in major areas that do service people, but keep in mind there are other locations that seem to desperately hang on for business (sandwiched amongst the other competitors). I would be thinking this is the middle, but let's analyze the other competitors just to be clear.
Giant and Safeway are still the most prevalent "mainstream" grocers in the area, with many clusters of successful locations throughout, even after all these years. They do just as good as average stores around here. After the turn of the century, several grocers entered the D.C./Baltimore market, such as Food Lion (a rather smaller competitor), Harris Teeter (which has experienced fast growth), Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Wegmans (major competitor!), and Walmart (another major competitor). In turn, Shoppers could be slightly below the newer favorites, and above some of the stores. Like I said, the chain has closed more stores than before and not expanded/innovated/changed at all.

I would say that, but another key is that SuperValu doesn't even care about a large fraction of their chains anymore, just displaying similar advertisements and such... they are kicking Save-A-Lot out, now time for their more unsuccessful counterparts. As for the other chains, well, Aldi and the like are mostly smaller and only contain half of what a store like Shoppers does. Walmart... well, their stores are largely crowded, and prepared foods are lacking in my opinion to be even to the food warehouse.

I would be all for hearing the news soon, but I would not want the chain to fall, or have their stores succumb to any sort of buyout in a major way. We've already had enough impact to Shoppers' being, so maybe we'll need to rebuild it back to the warehouse-priced days.

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by veteran+ » May 2nd, 2016, 4:26 pm

Don't forget that Food Fair/Pantry Pride was also in the D.C. area.

Wasn't Grand Union there as well?

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by pseudo3d » May 2nd, 2016, 4:36 pm

BatteryMill wrote:
pseudo3d wrote:Wow, I didn't know that Shoppers had fallen that low. I was kind of under the impression that it was the third place to Safeway and Giant (like it apparently was?)

To be honest, I think there are several things at play here, partly because it received a lot of damage in the era of an overburdened SuperValu when they owned New Albertsons, and partly because the vanishing low-end grocer segment that was heavily eaten into by Aldi and Walmart (mostly the latter), killing or otherwise harming a lot of the more discount-oriented grocery chains that thrived in the segment (Winn-Dixie and Food Lion are victims of that).

Trying to go upscale than revert that is never good for a chain, I imagine that they may be on the sale block in the near future with spoils going to everyone (possibly some store sites for Publix, too).
Shoppers still does have locations in major areas that do service people, but keep in mind there are other locations that seem to desperately hang on for business (sandwiched amongst the other competitors). I would be thinking this is the middle, but let's analyze the other competitors just to be clear.
Giant and Safeway are still the most prevalent "mainstream" grocers in the area, with many clusters of successful locations throughout, even after all these years. They do just as good as average stores around here. After the turn of the century, several grocers entered the D.C./Baltimore market, such as Food Lion (a rather smaller competitor), Harris Teeter (which has experienced fast growth), Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Wegmans (major competitor!), and Walmart (another major competitor). In turn, Shoppers could be slightly below the newer favorites, and above some of the stores. Like I said, the chain has closed more stores than before and not expanded/innovated/changed at all.

I would say that, but another key is that SuperValu doesn't even care about a large fraction of their chains anymore, just displaying similar advertisements and such... they are kicking Save-A-Lot out, now time for their more unsuccessful counterparts. As for the other chains, well, Aldi and the like are mostly smaller and only contain half of what a store like Shoppers does. Walmart... well, their stores are largely crowded, and prepared foods are lacking in my opinion to be even to the food warehouse.

I would be all for hearing the news soon, but I would not want the chain to fall, or have their stores succumb to any sort of buyout in a major way. We've already had enough impact to Shoppers' being, so maybe we'll need to rebuild it back to the warehouse-priced days.
Food Lion has been in the area for a while. I remember back in 1998 when I went to northern Virginia to Washington DC for a vacation, Food Lion was one of the stores in the area. I don't recall how far away the town was, it wasn't the dense suburbia of Washington DC but not too far away. Either way, even if it recently entered, it's definitely been orbiting for a while.

Anyway, warehouse food stores had kind of fallen out of fashion even by the mid to late 1980s, and unless it was some sort of member-less version of Costco (which is the closest to the "food warehouse" concept with its bulk foods and limited SKUs), I don't think it would serve the chain to go downscale. The SuperValu chains post-NAI aren't much to look at, as they include Cub Foods (another former warehouse store but does much better), Farm Fresh (sister Richfood chain), Shop n Save in St. Louis (discount groceries, mostly), the six Hornbacher's stores, and a few County Market stores. That's it.

As it stands, Shoppers won't work as a discount grocer if their prices are higher than Giant or Safeway, and reading the Yelp reviews (a few years old) indicate that the nicer Shoppers stores are slightly cheaper (in overall quality but also in everyday prices) than Harris Teeter, but if HT continues to play hardball in price and market location, then Shoppers will be crowded out. The only way out for SuperValu is to commit to a format (a mid-to-upscale format to compete with HT, Giant, and Safeway) or to relaunch the store, possibly with a name change, to a discount format that will compete with Walmart and Aldi. Both are risky.

SuperValu is unfortunately in a bit of a tight spot, and isn't interested in growing their retail holdings sales at this time. I wouldn't be surprised if they announce divesting their remaining retail brand names soon.

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill » May 2nd, 2016, 7:21 pm

veteran+ wrote:Don't forget that Food Fair/Pantry Pride was also in the D.C. area.

Wasn't Grand Union there as well?
They were, but they had mostly disappeared by the 80s, I believe. Shoppers might have swallowed up a few of these stores.
pseudo3d wrote: Food Lion has been in the area for a while. I remember back in 1998 when I went to northern Virginia to Washington DC for a vacation, Food Lion was one of the stores in the area. I don't recall how far away the town was, it wasn't the dense suburbia of Washington DC but not too far away. Either way, even if it recently entered, it's definitely been orbiting for a while.

Anyway, warehouse food stores had kind of fallen out of fashion even by the mid to late 1980s, and unless it was some sort of member-less version of Costco (which is the closest to the "food warehouse" concept with its bulk foods and limited SKUs), I don't think it would serve the chain to go downscale. The SuperValu chains post-NAI aren't much to look at, as they include Cub Foods (another former warehouse store but does much better), Farm Fresh (sister Richfood chain), Shop n Save in St. Louis (discount groceries, mostly), the six Hornbacher's stores, and a few County Market stores. That's it.

As it stands, Shoppers won't work as a discount grocer if their prices are higher than Giant or Safeway, and reading the Yelp reviews (a few years old) indicate that the nicer Shoppers stores are slightly cheaper (in overall quality but also in everyday prices) than Harris Teeter, but if HT continues to play hardball in price and market location, then Shoppers will be crowded out. The only way out for SuperValu is to commit to a format (a mid-to-upscale format to compete with HT, Giant, and Safeway) or to relaunch the store, possibly with a name change, to a discount format that will compete with Walmart and Aldi. Both are risky.

SuperValu is unfortunately in a bit of a tight spot, and isn't interested in growing their retail holdings sales at this time. I wouldn't be surprised if they announce divesting their remaining retail brand names soon.
Forgot to mention that, but they did start once Giant was transitioning from their good old Izzy Cohen era to the 1998 buyout. They did expand quite well then, however they're more stagnant now to say after Bloom/Bottom Dollar.

Yes, I would know that there were a lot of warehouse chains in the past. Shoppers I think may be something different, but it was new pioneering concepts in retailing that set them apart, and sent them on a path of modest success for the next 20 years upon their founding. That reminds me of the Shoppers Club concept in the mid-1990s, which made larger stores and more features.
I'm sure the others do well, but that's because they're most likely more true to their original ideals and suffer from less competition. I would thus like to see Shoppers crawl out in any way.

I would have thought that; seems like sometimes Shoppers is the more garish version of the two nowadays. I'm not saying anything really bad... but you know there's little effort. Sounds like some nice ideas, but hoping for the best.

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by pseudo3d » May 13th, 2016, 9:27 pm

I don't really see how Shoppers is facing "crucial times". Sure, it's market share has radically declined, but as long as SuperValu stays solvent and doesn't make indications that the rest of the non-NAI bunch will be divested, or store conditions aren't rapidly deteriorating, is it at the point of alarm yet?

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill » May 14th, 2016, 7:25 pm

pseudo3d wrote:I don't really see how Shoppers is facing "crucial times". Sure, it's market share has radically declined, but as long as SuperValu stays solvent and doesn't make indications that the rest of the non-NAI bunch will be divested, or store conditions aren't rapidly deteriorating, is it at the point of alarm yet?
Sorry for sounding a little too dramatic about their downfall, but, well, this will explain much about it.
With so many factors as to why they have gone downhill, they've been reduced to stuck in the middle of the market. By the "crucial times" thing, I more-so meant on how Shoppers would have an easier time to escape from SuperValu because of their decline, and rebuild quickly to ensure they bring back a better formula and to prevent the yearly closings and locations struggling to survive. Yes, not every chain is perfect, but Shoppers has been not well recognized and faceless.

It may not be the point of alarm, but yes... this chain could use a boost in the end.

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by pseudo3d » May 18th, 2016, 8:44 am

BatteryMill wrote:
pseudo3d wrote:I don't really see how Shoppers is facing "crucial times". Sure, it's market share has radically declined, but as long as SuperValu stays solvent and doesn't make indications that the rest of the non-NAI bunch will be divested, or store conditions aren't rapidly deteriorating, is it at the point of alarm yet?
Sorry for sounding a little too dramatic about their downfall, but, well, this will explain much about it.
With so many factors as to why they have gone downhill, they've been reduced to stuck in the middle of the market. By the "crucial times" thing, I more-so meant on how Shoppers would have an easier time to escape from SuperValu because of their decline, and rebuild quickly to ensure they bring back a better formula and to prevent the yearly closings and locations struggling to survive. Yes, not every chain is perfect, but Shoppers has been not well recognized and faceless.

It may not be the point of alarm, but yes... this chain could use a boost in the end.
As of right now, if things continue on their current path, SuperValu will choose to divest their chains, and while Cub Foods is good enough to sell off wholesale to another operator (Kroger, SpartanNash, Albertsons???), Shoppers will probably be divvied up among others. (Shop N Save would be another chain that I can see that won't be able to stand up on its own).

Even if SuperValu was to spin off Shoppers before the rest, I'm just having a hard time visualizing how they can save it. It's not even a particularly storied name, like, say, Dominick's or even Winn-Dixie, it's a warehouse chain that is struggling between a dying/dead format and a host of better mainline competitors.

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Re: Crucial times for Shoppers

Post by BatteryMill » May 24th, 2016, 7:23 pm

pseudo3d wrote: As of right now, if things continue on their current path, SuperValu will choose to divest their chains, and while Cub Foods is good enough to sell off wholesale to another operator (Kroger, SpartanNash, Albertsons???), Shoppers will probably be divvied up among others. (Shop N Save would be another chain that I can see that won't be able to stand up on its own).

Even if SuperValu was to spin off Shoppers before the rest, I'm just having a hard time visualizing how they can save it. It's not even a particularly storied name, like, say, Dominick's or even Winn-Dixie, it's a warehouse chain that is struggling between a dying/dead format and a host of better mainline competitors.
Like I have said, I can see this happening sometime. Unless they would get caught in some merger/sell-off with another grocery conglomerate (Kroger, Ahold/Delhaize, Albertsons, etc.), I'm sure all of them (except maybe Cub Foods?) will get some time outside, before something happens. Shoppers still seems to be in a pickle with all their stuff; maybe Publix to the rescue? (and yes, hold on to Shoppers).

As for the ideas, it could be fixed in some way, or maybe another path may be taken. Whatever it is to make Shoppers Food better...

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