Grocery Boom: New stores mean more options as shopping becomes trendy

From only one or two options, to now dozens, shoppers in Southwest Florida are seeing a grocery store boom!

WHAT’S BEHIND THE BOOM?

FGCU Marketing professor Dr. Khaled Aboulnasr says our growing population is opening doors for more options. He also points out that the stores moving into our area, are offering different shopping experiences than we’ve traditionally seen.

“So each one of them [the new grocery chains] is looking at niche in the market and trying to differentiate themselves… and offer consumers some sort of a unique selling proposition.”

And Dr. Aboulnasr predicts the growth in choice to continue.

“It would just make sense especially with the population growth and growth in job opportunities in the area,” he said. “…I think this [grocery expansion] will continue to happen for the next at least four or five years.”

WHAT THE SHOPPING EXPERTS THINK

Four moms from Southwest Florida sat down to sound off on their shopping habits, and what’s important to them.

From top left, clockwise: Allison Leone, Jessica Atwood, Kristi Tetlak, Roselyn Dorval.

Who are the moms?

Jessica Atwood – Estero – family of 6

Roselyn Dorval – Golden Gate  – family of 5

Allison Leone – Cape Coral – family of 4

Kristi Tetlak – Naples – family of 4

PRICE VS. HEALTHY OPTIONS

All the moms said they are focused on buying the healthiest options for their families. For some, doing so as economically as possible was very important.

“We’re down to one income right now, because I’m staying home with the kids, so I feel grocery shopping has become a little bit more– you know, I pay attention to what I buy and for how much,” said Tetlak.

“I probably spend at least a half hour on doing it [budgeting grocery shopping],” said Atwood.

For others, making sure they stayed within a budget was not as important as finding exactly what they needed.

“We do all organic, non GMO’s,” said Leone. “…You know going into it your price tag that you’re going to get and there really is no bargaining for that and you don’t have a lot of coupon cutting for those things.”

“We would rather spend on the food that we are buying now as opposed to health later so we are making that investment right now,” said Dorval.

STORE LOYALTY

The days of sticking to one store only, are long gone. All but one mom told us they shop at multiple stores, mostly because they can’t get everything they need or like at just one store.

Despite the nine stores our moms mentioned shopping at, one heavy-weight was still a crowd-favorite.

“I have a crush on Publix,” admitted Leone during our discussions.

As far as proximity is concerned, most of the moms said they head to certain stores, for certain items or to save money.

“I forgo proximity a lot for the quality,” explained Dorval. “… but if I could find a store that would carry all the things– goats milk– I would definitely limit how many places I go.”

LOOKING FOR SAVINGS

When it comes to saving money, our mothers swapped tips. No one cuts coupons, but store apps offering digital coupons and extra savings, were a hit with one mom admitting she may try one.

“My personality, I’m not cutting anything. I’m not getting out scissors, I’m not cutting anything,” said Leone. “…it has to be quick and it has to be easy.”

MORE OPTIONS

One thing all the moms agreed on: more options for grocery shopping is good, but they wish there were more.

We reached out to all stores mentioned by our mothers. Below are the comments they provided to us about their presence in SWFL.

FULL RESPONSES FROM GROCERY STORES:

ALDI

We’ve had a terrific response from the Southwest Florida community over the past few years. In fact, we live and work alongside our customers and hear their positive feedback and love for ALDI firsthand. From organic produce and antibiotic-free meats, to our award-winning wine and cheese, more than 40 million customers across the country every month trust our handpicked products and curated selection to deliver what they want and need.

We currently operate 4 stores in Lee and Collier Counties – and we’re growing! In fact, our second Naples store opens its doors August 9th, with a third on the way early next year.  We also have stores under construction in Ft. Myers and Punta Gorda.

The Sun Sentinel recently recognized ALDI as a Top Workplace for 2018. Without our great ALDI employees throughout our store and warehouse locations in Florida who have helped us gain this recognition, we would not be able to have such a strong footprint in the state of Florida.

As one of the fastest-growing retailers in the U.S., we have millions of passionate fans fueling our growth. Our hiring events supports our growing South Florida footprint that is part of the nationwide $3.4 billion capital investment by ALDI to build new stores across the country. With plans to expand to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022 – a 25% increase from the more than 1,800 U.S. stores currently operating – ALDI is expected to create an additional 25,000 jobs.

Across the nation, ALDI is increasing its store count to 2,500 by 2022. By then, we will help as many as 100 million people save money on groceries every month.

LUCKY’S MARKET

Lucky’s is building our footprint in Florida for several reasons.  First, as the population grows in our state, it only makes sense that the need for additional retail food stores will increase.  Secondly, there is a great need for more natural and organic retail stores in our state.  The natural and organic retailing channel is showing positive sales growth year to year while the conventional retailing channel is flat or negative year to year.

As we have entered Florida, we have found our concept is being well received by local customers.  We strive to bring great tasting, healthy food to each community we serve at price points that are affordable for all.  We endeavor to be great community partners.  Our philosophy is simple, for Lucky’s to be truly successful we must support the communities we serve and share with those less fortunate.  As an example, each quarter we have an Impact Day where we partner with a local nonprofit organization and donate ten percent of our daily sales to the nonprofit.  On an ongoing basis, we have our “10% For The Good” program that donates ten percent of the profits of all private label products back into our local communities through our nonprofit partners.  Our Bags for Change Program offers the customer a chance to donate a Wooden Dime for each reusable bag they bring with them while shopping to one of three local nonprofits.  Lucky’s then matches the donations quarterly.

Finally, we work to ensure that our stores are a fun place to shop, converting the dreaded task of buying groceries into an exciting experience.  We provide samples of our goodies seven days a week.  We have food themed promotions every month(our upcoming August promotion is centered around the famous Hatch Chile from New Mexico).  We have wine and cheese tastings every Friday evening.  We offer live music from talented local performers three to four days a week.  We have dartboards and a ping pong table for our customers to enjoy while shopping in our store.  We fire up the grill several times each week and offer tasty, fresh grilled entrees and side dishes.  In our cafe, we offer our “Sip and Stroll” program where a customer can order a pint of local brew for $2 or a glass of wine for $3 and enjoy them while shopping.

WALMART

The past year has seen Walmart make significant investments across Florida, and that commitment will continue well into 2019,” said Jaime Fernandez, Regional General Manager for Walmart stores in South Florida. “From launching new technologies to expanding our popular Grocery Pickup Service and remodeling existing stores, Walmart is taking steps to ensure the customer experience is fast and convenient.

WHOLE FOODS

At Whole Foods Market we make it our mission to know what our customers need and want from their shopping experience. Along with taking the guess work out of feeding their families naturally with the highest quality products, we hire team members who love to help and are passionate about food. Whether customers are trying something new or have special dietary requirements, it is our goal to satisfy and delight them. Our customers in Southwest Florida shop with us for a full food experience and we love to provide it. We are looking forward to growing in the area.

TRADER JOE’S

We love being a part of the neighborhoods where we do business. We look forward to providing our customers with great products, of the highest quality, at fair prices, and the best possible customer experience, each and every time they visit our stores. It means a lot to us to know that people want to shop at Trader Joe’s and want us in their neighborhood. We never take that for granted.

PUBLIX

We’re always looking for ways to meet and exceed the needs of our customers, both in new products and services.  The valet service offering at our Shoppes At Pebblebrook location is a great example.  Competition is always good.  In the end, the customer always wins.

FOOD AND THOUGHT

Food & Thought will be expanding it’s retail footprint to approximately 7,000 sq. ft. within the six months which will include a redesign of it’s Grocery, Cafe and Juice Bar. Offering three times the amount of local organic produce. A bigger, better cafe with an additional 26-foot Grab & Go cooler.

Reporter:Allison Gormly
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