L.A.’s retail scene continues to evolve

07/26/2013 10:48:00 AM
Tom Burfield

At least in theory, the executives will add their expertise as to what not to do and likely will prevent AmazonFresh from expanding too rapidly, Reuters said.

Compton, Calif.-based Ralphs Grocery Co. is promoting shorter lines and faster checkout in its advertising, as it parent, Cincinnati-based The Kroger Co., says it expects to install infrared sensors that count customers in all of the more than 2,400 Kroger supermarkets.

Alternative formats on the rise

Of the four major supermarket chains in the Los Angeles market — Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons and Stater Bros. — all but Stater Bros. will be down by more than a half dozen stores this year compared to last year, said Dick Spezzano, president of Spezzano Consulting Services, Monrovia, Calif.

“The real change here in Los Angeles is that these chains have less store count and have less share of the total dollar,” he said.

“The alternative formats have really started to pick up steam.”

For example, Wal-Mart neighborhood markets are in expansion mode in the region.

Target has introduced its PFresh program into just about all of its Southern California stores, and Monrovia-based Trader Joe’s continues to do a “marvelous job,” though expansion has slowed as it saturates the market, Spezzano said.

The Phoenix-based Sprouts chain, which emphasizes low prices and large produce displays, also could expand its California locations significantly in the next few years, he said.

Meanwhile, independent ethnic chains like Anaheim, Calif.-based Gonzalez Northgate Market and Los Angeles-based Super King continue to grow. In all, there are more than 20 ethnic supermarket chains in the area, he said.

Expansion isn’t limited to supermarkets.

Convenience stores

Deerfield, Ill.-based Walgreens drug stores on Dec. 1 opened a flagship store at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood, marking its 8,000th location.

Besides an enhanced pharmacy and various health and wellness products and services, the store features a juice and smoothie bar featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and hundreds of fresh food items including produce and high-quality, on-the-go meal options such as wraps, sandwiches and salads made fresh daily, the company said.

Spezzano also expects the Dollar General chain, which also is adding fresh offerings to its product line, to grow its presence in Los Angeles.


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