Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by buckguy »

If you're going to speculate take note that Wegman's competes with Publix in Richmond. They have strong locally owned Shop-Rite competitors in NJ and a wide variety of competitors in the DC area including a great many Whole Foods locations. They've probably remained in their home markets in Central and Western NY State because the competition is weak, but they also operate smaller, more conventional stores in many those places. OTOH, they seem to be very successful operating their normal stores in markets like Allentown and Lancaster that wouldn't seem upscale enough for them.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by mjhale »

buckguy wrote: March 13th, 2021, 5:04 am If you're going to speculate take note that Wegman's competes with Publix in Richmond. They have strong locally owned Shop-Rite competitors in NJ and a wide variety of competitors in the DC area including a great many Whole Foods locations. They've probably remained in their home markets in Central and Western NY State because the competition is weak, but they also operate smaller, more conventional stores in many those places. OTOH, they seem to be very successful operating their normal stores in markets like Allentown and Lancaster that wouldn't seem upscale enough for them.
My feeling is that Wegmans does well in markets like Allentown, Harrisburg and Lancaster because they bring something that the average grocery store doesn't offer. Wegmans is certainly a completely different shopping experience than Giant-PA and Weis in those markets. It seems outside their home market Wegmans appeals to the customer who wants something different so they can feel special about what they purchased. I think the same thing was true when Wegmans entered the DC market. Giant was suffering under Ahold and Safeway was its usual inconsistent, expensive self. Wegmans gave people something different and something they perceived was better than what they could get at Giant or Safeway. As competition has increased in the DC market Wegmans remains a solid operation. However I don't feel that it has the same luster that it did when they originally entered the market. I can get "special" stuff at many places without having to endure the massive and usually very busy Wegmans environment. Wegmans seems to bank on the perception that they are a step above and something "special" to the customer. But I can see where a strong local or regional competitor that has the same perception in people's minds it could give Wegmans some difficulty. This, I think is more so if the local competitor can provide a similar but more efficient shopping experience.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by mjhale »

storewanderer wrote: March 11th, 2021, 10:20 pm Could it be the customers in NC don't like the oversized Wegmans stores with congested/challenging parking lots? Harris Teeter stores skew smaller (still 45k square feet but that is small compared to a Wegmans). I am wondering if too few of the customers in NC like the Disney theme park type of crowd and experience for buying groceries that Wegmans provides.
Consider that to a lot of people part of Wegmans luster is the self serve prepared foods bars and the in store restaurants and cooked to order food bars that they operate. People make a day of going to Wegmans to shop but also eat at the food offerings that Wegmans offers. With coronavirus restrictions these operations are either shut down or significantly reduced. It might be carry out only whereas before it would be sit down or eat in service. Wegmans wants to keep you in the store longer so you will shop more. But with the food choices being carry out only you get your groceries, then your prepared foods and leave the store. I've always thought that Wegmans used the profit and volume on prepared and self-service foods to lower prices on the center aisle and "staple" dairy and frozen foods. Without that volume maybe Wegmans is seeing its overall operation somewhat strained because they market the low prices on average, every day goods while having a higher overall quality level than the average grocery store.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by storewanderer »

mjhale wrote: March 13th, 2021, 6:59 am
Consider that to a lot of people part of Wegmans luster is the self serve prepared foods bars and the in store restaurants and cooked to order food bars that they operate. People make a day of going to Wegmans to shop but also eat at the food offerings that Wegmans offers. With coronavirus restrictions these operations are either shut down or significantly reduced. It might be carry out only whereas before it would be sit down or eat in service. Wegmans wants to keep you in the store longer so you will shop more. But with the food choices being carry out only you get your groceries, then your prepared foods and leave the store. I've always thought that Wegmans used the profit and volume on prepared and self-service foods to lower prices on the center aisle and "staple" dairy and frozen foods. Without that volume maybe Wegmans is seeing its overall operation somewhat strained because they market the low prices on average, every day goods while having a higher overall quality level than the average grocery store.
What I'm getting at though is maybe not as many folks in NC feel the need to "make a day of going to Wegmans" to grocery shop when there are already options that are perfectly acceptable that do not take as long to get to, as much time to park the car, or as much time to get in and out of. Well run Harris Teeter, which it absolutely is in NC/SC, and then adding Publix to the mix (plus whatever else is there- Whole Foods, Lidl, Aldi, Trader Joes?, Lowes Food, Food Lion), I really think it is going to be a lot harder for Wegman's to get the large crowds they need to support the giant stores. COVID or not.

I also wonder if Wegman's could add 4-5 stores in FL (specifically Orlando and Tampa) and make the concept work in those limited number of stores, there may be enough folks looking for an alternative to Publix... Just not sure they could scale it beyond a small group of stores.

Grocery stores in the Northeast US have historically been ranked among the worst in the nation in those Consumer Reports surveys for decades now. I know those surveys are not precision by any mean but I have to think there is something realistic with customer perception there given the fact that for decades we kept seeing chains like Grand Union, A&P, Pathmark, Acme, etc. on the bottom of the list I think really helped build Wegmans reputation up. Add the horror stories of many of the NYC grocery stores that were too small of chains to make the lists; high prices, dirty stores, it seemed as if most of the grocers in the Northeast could not do anything right (yet ran high volume stores). Folks hated their nearby store so much they were willing to make a day of shopping at the "better" but not so convenient Wegmans. Wegman's doubled down on the ability to make the experience really really great for the customer with these larger and larger stores with more and more product offerings which only made the mouse trap that much better and more appealing.

I always thought Wegman's got it right on their pricing as you describe. The product mix in center store isn't as deep as you'd expect in such a large store, priced way lower than you'd expect in an upscale store, but seems to be carefully curated. The fresh departments- especially prepared foods- are priced at full price; but you get what you pay for.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by veteran+ »

If only we had a "choice" in Los Angeles like a Wegmans.............

Or even a Super Target and a large Fred Meyers.....................

:(
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by buckguy »

Having lived in Northeast and being a regular visitor, I suspect that it's more a matter of shoppers being critical than the stores themselves, which mostly are forgettable rather than memorably awful--Star, Stop & Shop, etc. come to mind but operators like Market Basket and Big Y seem to have justifiable good reputations and going back over time there have been other chains like pre-A&P Food Mart that had consistently strong operations. The Shop-Rite operators may vary but they usually have good deli/bakery and competitive prices, and they have benefited from Acme's decline in Philadelphia and the demise of local operators in Baltimore. If any region has generally poor stores, it's the Southeast--the produce is usually meh, the deli selections are weak and the bakery stuff is rarely very good; probably the consistently worst operator in the US, Winn-Dixie still survives there and you also have Food Lion (ugh) while consistently mediocre Kroger is often the market leader. Moving to DC was a nice change from Atlanta because there is really a lot of variety among the competition as well as useful seasonal farmers markets.

Wegman's comes from a region where prepared foods like pizza have to a be step up from the usual supermarket variety elsewhere and they also do well with things like bagels, which are usually horrible from a supermarket. Despite the short growing seasons, they also have to compete with pretty robust famers markets and farmstands. I was in Central New York early last fall and the orchard fruits and other seasonal items were incredible and very reasonable in price.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by Romr123 »

That's a good observation--around Michigan Meijer has quite a good reputation for produce (they do an apple week every year which is worth waiting for---all those exotic apples that you never see except at the farmers markets, and the month of blueberries), where the national chains (Wal-Mart/Kroger/Aldi/Target) range from tolerable (Kroger) to dire (Target). I could see Wegmans expanding into, as mentioned before, Indianapolis/Columbus and Charleston WV (of all places). Cleveland/Akron has both Acme/Heinens; Detroit has the Chaldean independent stores, and the Italian high-end/produce stores, Plum Market (fka Merchant of Vino---owners of which sold out to Whole Foods, then had a NDA for 5 years) which would crowd out Wegmans (plus the union thing--both Meijer and Kroger are UFCW in Michigan).
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by Knight »

Romr123 wrote: March 10th, 2021, 8:01 pm Sounds like they've been working on this location for 4 years, according to the story, and the market has become increasingly competitive (LIDL, Aldi, etc etc) with even more competitors since then.
Grocery retailers in the Raleigh-Durham-Cary combined statistical area:
  • Hypermarket: SuperTarget, Walmart Supercenter
  • Limited assortment/discount grocery: Aldi, Lidl
  • Specialty organic/gourmet food: Earth Fare, The Fresh Market, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods Market
  • Supermarket: Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Lowe's Foods, Publix, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Wegman's
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by Knight »

1111072036 wrote: March 11th, 2021, 2:25 pm The RDU area is my home market so I can probably give a little insight as to what I’m seeing in the past couple of years:

- Publix has been here for a little under seven years, but has around eight stores; There is another one confirmed for a part of Wake County that isn’t served by Harris Teeter (Lowe’s foods is closer, but not in that particular municipality). Outside of that, there were at least two or three sites in the Triangle where they were chased away by neighborhood opposition.

- Not much has happened for Walmart or Food Lion outside of them getting a Kroger store. Bi-Lo never expanded to the Triangle, so there’s really no stores that they could sell to Food Lion.

- Lowe’s Foods could add a couple of stores in the area in the coming years, but I don’t think we’ll see a big expansion by them.

- Wegmans did draw a large opening crowd to their Raleigh store, with over 30,000 shoppers in attendance (making it one of their largest grand openings). However, I have noticed some complaints from their fanatics about store sizes being smaller (97-105K versus 115-130K) and the stores not having as many amenities. I don’t think they’re failing in this market (especially not with the fairly high concentration of transplants from the Northeast) but canceling a store in an area like this does send off a couple of red flags.

- Harris Teeter has increased the number of Kroger product lines in the store (Mainly with Simple Truth replacing the Harris Teeter Organics lines with more Private Selection lines being thrown in) but there were Kroger shoppers in the market who swore off HT either due to prices or Kroger’s handling of their store closing operation. Additionally, Harris Teeter has been reluctant to open any of their larger format (78K) stores in the Triangle. They opened two of them in Charlotte, and they also have a 72K store in Greensboro.

- Lidl and Aldi both opened new stores, but I think Lidl opened more.

- The site in question was near Cary Towne Center, a dead mall that was supposed to be partially redeveloped into an IKEA at one point until they pulled out of the project. There is speculation that since IKEA no longer wanted to build nearby, that Wegmans was doomed from the get-go

- Since Food Lion and Harris Teeter are still dominant in most places, there is a subset of Triangle shoppers that want something else.
The Raleigh-Durham-Cary combines statistical area has tight competition. I would see action among supermarket competitors next year. Publix will open its new distribution center in Greensboro, and could accelerate new stores opening statewide. Food Lion, deterred from its acquisition of BI-LO and Harvey's stores from Southeastern Grocers, has not stepped up to be among other Ahold Delhaize USA banners (Giant (Landover, Maryland), Giant (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), Hannaford, and Stop & Shop), and has not improved to compete with limited assortment/discount grocers and other supermarkets and hypermarkets. It could enter a buzz saw of grim proportions. Lowe's Foods, through sporadic growth across South Carolina, could be an acquisition target.
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Re: Wegmans cancels plans for a store in NC

Post by BatteryMill »

1111072036 wrote: March 11th, 2021, 2:25 pm The RDU area is my home market so I can probably give a little insight as to what I’m seeing in the past couple of years:

- Publix has been here for a little under seven years, but has around eight stores; There is another one confirmed for a part of Wake County that isn’t served by Harris Teeter (Lowe’s foods is closer, but not in that particular municipality). Outside of that, there were at least two or three sites in the Triangle where they were chased away by neighborhood opposition.

- Not much has happened for Walmart or Food Lion outside of them getting a Kroger store. Bi-Lo never expanded to the Triangle, so there’s really no stores that they could sell to Food Lion.

- Lowe’s Foods could add a couple of stores in the area in the coming years, but I don’t think we’ll see a big expansion by them.

- Wegmans did draw a large opening crowd to their Raleigh store, with over 30,000 shoppers in attendance (making it one of their largest grand openings). However, I have noticed some complaints from their fanatics about store sizes being smaller (97-105K versus 115-130K) and the stores not having as many amenities. I don’t think they’re failing in this market (especially not with the fairly high concentration of transplants from the Northeast) but canceling a store in an area like this does send off a couple of red flags.

- Harris Teeter has increased the number of Kroger product lines in the store (Mainly with Simple Truth replacing the Harris Teeter Organics lines with more Private Selection lines being thrown in) but there were Kroger shoppers in the market who swore off HT either due to prices or Kroger’s handling of their store closing operation. Additionally, Harris Teeter has been reluctant to open any of their larger format (78K) stores in the Triangle. They opened two of them in Charlotte, and they also have a 72K store in Greensboro.

- Lidl and Aldi both opened new stores, but I think Lidl opened more.

- The site in question was near Cary Towne Center, a dead mall that was supposed to be partially redeveloped into an IKEA at one point until they pulled out of the project. There is speculation that since IKEA no longer wanted to build nearby, that Wegmans was doomed from the get-go

- Since Food Lion and Harris Teeter are still dominant in most places, there is a subset of Triangle shoppers that want something else.
Publix backing out of a site... strange news!

As for Wegmans - we've done threads a while back on how their newest locations lack some of the amenities of their priors (simpler decor, no second-floor seating, no pharmacies). Perhaps there could be room for these trends to be bucked upon popular demand. I'm still sad this one never saw the light of day.

Some of Harris Teeter's largest stores have been around 100k, including the Greensboro store. There has been one 70k sq ft store in the Brier Creek neighborhood of Raleigh. There are still two large-format locations in the southern reaches of North Carolina, and one proposed for Northern Virginia. Also, how did Kroger handle the closings? I haven't heard any negative news on the subject yet.
Knight wrote: March 16th, 2021, 8:40 am
The Raleigh-Durham-Cary combines statistical area has tight competition. I would see action among supermarket competitors next year. Publix will open its new distribution center in Greensboro, and could accelerate new stores opening statewide. Food Lion, deterred from its acquisition of BI-LO and Harvey's stores from Southeastern Grocers, has not stepped up to be among other Ahold Delhaize USA banners (Giant (Landover, Maryland), Giant (Carlisle, Pennsylvania), Hannaford, and Stop & Shop), and has not improved to compete with limited assortment/discount grocers and other supermarkets and hypermarkets. It could enter a buzz saw of grim proportions. Lowe's Foods, through sporadic growth across South Carolina, could be an acquisition target.
How is Food Lion now? They've remodeled a plenty of stores and they still seem to be quite autonomous from Ahold chains.
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