Monday, August 22, 2016

Whole Foods announces September-October openings in PA

The new Whole Foods coming to the Main Line in Wynnewood - bigger and better than the old one - is scheduled to open on September 14. According to reports, the store will feature a juice and coffee bar, wood-fired pizzas, and a full-service pub called Table and Tavern.

The pub will have a full bar and a menu that includes brown-buttered sunchokes, braised octopus and duck leg confit. Rumor has it there will be real food as well. Brunch will be offered on weekends.

The next local opening is set to take place on September 28 in Lower Macungie (Allentown) at the new Hamilton Crossings shopping center. Target, Dick's, PetSmart and Rally House are already open at the center, with Costco, Nordstrom Rack and several others coming soon.

In October, the new and improved Rodin Square Whole Foods is scheduled to open on Pennsylvania Avenue in Philadelphia.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

PA wine sales expand to grocery and convenience stores

Although it's been widely publicized in Pennsylvania, those outside the state may not be aware that the laws here regarding wine and beer sales have entered the 20th century - sort of. (Yes, I know it's the 21st century.)

Here's the deal. In PA, beer must be purchased at package stores, and only by the 12-pack or case. However, some supermarkets and convenience stores can sell beer, but only under specific guidelines (i.e. separate registers). And some bars can sell 6-packs for take-out only.

As for wine and liquor, they can only be sold at state-owned stores. Until now, that is. As of earlier this month, consumers may buy up to four bottles of wine at supermarkets and convenience stores that already sell takeout beer. That's only if the supermarket or convenience store has the right kind of license, though.

Here's an excerpt from a Supermarket News article explaining the new law.

"Before the retail establishments can make it more convenient for their customers to purchase wine, the stores must clear some hurdles of their own. Those without existing liquor licenses seeking to sell wine for off-premise consumption must first comply with certain provisions regarding these sales. They must apply and obtain a restaurant liquor license known as an 'R' license. Once acquired, licensed eateries - and even gas stations - may sell up to two six-packs of takeout beer per transaction. However, in order for retail establishments to begin selling wine in addition to beer, they must also apply for a 'wine expanded permit,' which authorizes stores to sell up to four, 750 ML bottles of wine for off-premises consumption."

There is plenty more, including fees depending on how much wine the retailer purchases, and rules regarding how much square footage can be used in the store as well as how many tables and chairs are required.

It seems more confusing than it needs to be, but the law actually represents some progress. It is likely that alcohol sales in PA will eventually be completely privatized, but not for a long time. For now they are still regulated by lawmakers. Hence my 20th century reference above.

Update: Southeastern PA stores that received approval under the new law to sell wine include the following:

Bucks County:
Acme - Doylestown
ShopRite - Bensalem
ShopRite - Fairless Hills
Giant - New Hope

Chester County:
Acme - Wayne
Giant - Exton

Delaware County:
Acme - Glen Mills
Acme - Media
Giant - Havertown

Montgomery County:
Acme - Flourtown
Giant - Flourtown
Giant - North Wales
Giant - Willow Grove

Philadelphia County:
Thriftway - Aramingo Ave.
Acme - Red Lion Road

Monday, August 8, 2016

bfresh stores to add grocery items and prepared foods

bfresh, the urban fresh concept that debuted nearly a year ago, is making substantial changes. According to parent company Ahold-Delhaize (Giant, Food Lion, Hanaford, Stop & Shop, Peapod), the store plans to add hundreds of branded packaged goods - from paper towels to peanut butter - to an assortment previously dominated by fresh, natural and organic brands. Stores will also include more grab-and-go and heat-and-eat food options.

These changes are being made as Ahold continues to learn how best to meet the needs of young urban shoppers.

"Shoppers want to keep things simple," said bfresh Team Coach Patrick Blye in a recent news release. "No matter how you want to shop - like stocking up for the week, buying fresh meals every day, or stopping in for the freshest quick bite in town - bfresh has got you covered."

According to a story in Supermarket News, Philadelphia is a target for bfresh expansion.

Private equity firms reportly planning to bid on Save-A-Lot

A recent Reuters report stated that several private equity firms plan to bid on Save-A-Lot, currently a Supervalu banner, in the coming weeks. If the report is accurate, it is not likely that the discount grocer would be spun off as a public entity, as many thought it would.

Reuters' anonymous sources named Advent International; KKR; Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; TPG Capital; Onex Corp., and Thomas H. Lee Partners as potential bidders that could go as high as $1.8 billion.

Ahold-Delhaize trading as one entity, selling off stores to avoid antitrust concerns

Ahold-Delhaize began trading as a combined entity on Monday, July 25, a few days after the Federal Trade Commission issued a consent order allowing for the completion of the merger, subject to the sale of 81 stores due to antitrust concerns.

According to the company, agreements have been made to sell all 81 stores, plus an additional five stores that were included as part of negotiations with buyers in order to reach a package deal. Buyers include Weis Markets (38 Food Lion stores in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia), Supervalu (22 Food Lion stores in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia), and Publix (10 Martin's stores in Richmond, Virginia), among others.

The FTC said the agreement is subject to public comment until August 22, after which the commission will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Dollar General wants to double its store count

Dollar General announced last week that it is targeting up to 13,000 potential sites in the continental United States. If they are successful in opening stores in all the targeted locations, the company would double its current store count.

"In trade areas where you probably only need one store for the next seven to 10 years, I'd rather it be a Dollar General, and that's how we are looking at our portfolio as we go forward," said CEO Todd J. Vasos.

900 new stores are scheduled to open in 2016, and 1,000 more in 2017.

Vasos said Dollar General has already identified about 800,000 "seed" points, or areas where people congregate. He says the company plans to narrow that number down to 13,000 by looking at several factors, including demographics, population density, competition, and through its own proprietary data.

Walmart revamping Neighborhood Market stores, testing car service delivery

Walmart plans to give its Neighborhood Market concept, a small-format supermarket, an in-store revamp to a new, "fresh and friendly" prototype to better compete with conventional food retailers and price-focused merchants (dollar stores, discount grocers, etc.).

"We've created a more modern look and feel. We've changed the colors... You'll see pick-up, you'll see pharmacy and you'll see fresh food," said Julie Murphy, EVP of Neighborhood Markets.

According to a recent Supermarket News story, Walmart has employed its "fresh angle" layout in the stores, which features a spacious produce section arranged on low tables positioned at an angle to provide greater visibility to perimeter deli and prepared foods.

Earlier this month Walmart also announced that it will test delivery with Uber and Lyft. The tests will take place in Denver (Lyft) and Phoenix (Uber) to execute home delivery of grocery orders. The plan is for customers to order online, then request that the car service pick up the items at Walmart and bring them to their home. The customer would pay a $7 - $10 delivery charge online and make no payment to the driver.

In April Walmart said it was launching a "click-and-collect" grocery shopping option in eight new markets, and expanding its availability in a few markets where it's already available. The free pick-up service launched in Kansas City, Boise, Richmond, Virginia Beach, Austin, Provo, Daphne (AL), and Charleston (SC). Service expanded in Dallas, Houston and Atlanta.

According to Walmart, 90% of online orders include fresh grocery items like dairy, produce or meat.