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Richmond grocers maintain strong sales fueled by inflation

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Grocery sales in the Richmond market grew higher than last year’s pandemic-related boom — but that increase is due largely to inflation.

Overall sales of food and related items in the Richmond region for the 12 months that ended March 31 came in at $4.26 billion — up from $4.1 billion in the previous period, according to an annual market study by Food World, a Maryland-based grocery industry publication.

“This was kind of a year of holding on, and the holding on turned out to be more positive than a lot of retailers anticipated because they were able to gain greater sales through the inflationary price increases,” said Jeffrey W. Metzger, Food World‘s president and publisher.

The 12-month period ending March 31, 2021, was a period of skyrocketing sales due to COVID-19 and the tailwinds that retailers were able to gain from more in-store shopping or delivery without the usual impact of the food service.

But as schools and restaurants opened up more last year, that pandemic-related spike slowed down.

With no revolutionary market changes, the top 15 retailers in the Richmond region remained the same from the previous year’s report.

Walmart increased its sales and held its spot as the No. 1 grocer in the Richmond area with 16.6% of the market share, virtually unchanged from the previous year’s report. Walmart’s sales of food and food-related items was $706.7 million for the 12-month period ending March 31, a $28 million increase from the year prior.

Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional supermarket chain, ranked second in the region again with a 15.1% market share, down from 15.4% in 2021 and 16.2% in 2020. But year-over-year sales grew to $644.8 million, a $5.8 million increase from the prior period.

Kroger and Walmart each have 18 stores in the Richmond region, which includes Richmond, Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent and Powhatan.

Food Lion, which has 49 stores in the region, sold $605.4 million of food and food-related items — a year-over-year increase of $14.5 million. The grocer ranked No. 3 in the Richmond region again.

Wawa and CVS ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

Publix, which entered the Richmond scene in 2017, held its place at No. 6. The Florida-based grocer holds 5.8% of the market with 16 stores in the region.

Richmond market leaders

Source: Food World

Rank Company Stores Sales (in millions) % of market
1 Walmart 18 $706.70 16.60%
2 Kroger 18 $644.80 15.14%
3 Food Lion 49 $605.40 14.22%
4 Wawa 32 $289.60 6.80%
5 CVS 58 $278.90 6.55%
6 Publix 16 $247.10 5.80%
7 Walgreens 34 $203.40 4.78%
8 Target 12 $183.20 4.30%
9 7-Eleven 80 $163.00 3.83%
10 Wegmans 2 $130.00 3.05%
11 Sam's Club 3 $107.00 2.51%
12 Costco 2 $101.60 2.39%
13 Aldi 12 $92.60 2.17%
14 BJ's Wholesale Club 2 $77.60 1.82%
15 International Markets 6 $56.60 1.33%
16 Sheetz 13 $46.30 1.09%
17 Whole Foods 2 $44.90 1.05%
18 Fas-Marts 27 $41.50 0.97%
19 Lidl 6 $40.10 0.94%
20 The Fresh Market 4 $40.00 0.94%

Publix spokesman Jared Glover said Publix is “always” looking to grow across the area.

“Our success within the region is truly owed to our associates who are passionate about serving our customers,” Glover said in an email. “As owners, our associates deliver an engaging, personalized experience in a clean and pleasant shopping environment.”

With 396 retailers selling groceries in the region, the Richmond area is over-stored, Metzger said.

There’s “too much bloat,” Metzger said, but he’s not sure that it will cause a collapse.

“What you have is a battle of heavyweight retailers in the market. There’s very few independents left,” he said. “All of these companies are well-financed and for the most part — really I can say this for just about everybody — that Richmond is not the focus of their entire operation. So if they struggle in Richmond, that can be easily offset by many markets where they compete.”

With only seven new stores in the region, there was very little new store movement over the 12-month period. Aldi added one new location and now has 12 stores in the region. The extreme value discounter is ranked No. 13, with 2.2% of the market share.

“I think retailers were still climbing it out, going through all the COVID iterations and basically just trying to keep up. Retailers just had their noses down, trying to deal with all these issues,” Metzger said. “However, a lot of their challenges and why they kept their nose to the grindstone and didn’t do a lot of adventurous stuff, is because of the inability to get product because of supply chain difficulties.”

abryson@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6945

Twitter: @AnnaBryson18

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