Charlotte’s favorite grocers compete for customer dollars

A Publix store in Cotswold. Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

Walmart is once again the most popular grocer in the Charlotte region by market share, according to data released this week from sales-tracking firm Chain Store Guide.

Of all the grocery dollars spent in the Charlotte metro in 2021, 21.6% was at Walmart. Next up: Harris Teeter, with 17.6% of the area’s grocery store market share. Walmart and Harris Teeter both grew their respective market share from the year prior.

  • The region’s No. 3 grocer, Food Lion, saw its market share slip to 14.7%, down slightly from 15.4% the year before.

Why it matters: As more people move to Charlotte, grocers compete fiercely for their dollars. The area’s grocery wars have included the addition in recent years of newcomers like Lidl, expansion of newer chains like Publix and consolidation of longstanding operators like Bi-Lo.

What’s happening: As an essential business, grocers remained open throughout the pandemic — although some, like Harris Teeter, temporarily reduced their hours. At the same time, these businesses grappled with many of the other macroeconomic challenges facing American businesses today, including inflation and labor shortages.

Data: Chain Store Guide; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

What we’re watching: Publix, a Florida-based chain that opened its first North Carolina store in Ballantyne in 2014, continues to expand its footprint locally.

The grocer competes for customers most closely with Harris Teeter. That’s why you’ll often see the two grocers’ stores in close proximity to one another.

  • Publix’s market share is likely to continue to grow as it expands its local footprint. Publix has plans for stores in Mooresville, at the Arboretum, in Uptown, at Carmel Commons in south Charlotte and in Huntersville.
  • Another change to watch: Food Lion will likely grow its local market share following its acquisition in 2020 of dozens of Bi-Lo stores. The move included five in the Charlotte metro area, and the brand change occurred early last year, spokesperson Matt Harakal confirmed.

In the midst of all the change, we’ll also be watching to see how Charlotte’s hometown grocer fares. Harris Teeter, started here in 1960, was acquired by Kroger in 2013.

  • In a statement, spokesperson Danna Robinson said looking ahead, the grocer will continue to provide customers with the same quality products and customer service they expect. “We strive to invest in our business – our stores, our inventory-mix, our supplier community, the communities we serve and most importantly, our valued associates,” Robinson said.

Outside the area’s top 10 grocers, here are where the next most popular operators stand:

  • 11. Whole Foods (1.8% market share)
  • 12. Dollar General (1.8%)
  • 13. BJ’s Wholesale Club (1.7%)
  • 14. Walmart Neighborhood Market (1.7%)
  • 15. Dollar Tree/Family Dollar (1.4%

Of note: Trader Joe’s stores in Charlotte are slammed on any given day, but the California grocer only commands 1% of the local grocery market share. That’s because they only have a small number (3) of stores here.

  • Fresh Market, which is headquartered in Greensboro, has a similar situation. It was recently voted America’s best supermarket but only has 0.6% market share and five local stores.

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