Walmart, Kroger firm US retail leadership

E-commerce, budget chains are promoting innovation in food retail
Walmart, Kroger firm US retail leadership

Walmart Stores and Kroger confirm their leadership as the top food retail groups in the United States, helped by digital innovation and quality offering. But more players are moving up in a retail scene where grocers add in-house restaurants and digital stores to entice younger consumers who want food delivered whenever they want and everywhere they like.

Retailers performances

The absolute leader remains Walmart, the largest retailer in the world according to Forbes magazine, with revenues of 308 billion dollars and 4,221 stores. The group also tops the annual Super 50 food retailers ranking by magazine Progressive Grocer (PG). Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocer, sits steadily in the second spot of PG’s list published in May. Unchanged in the ranking is also AB Acquisition, the parent company of Safeway, Albertsons and Vons. The apparent steady performance is the result of much dynamism in the face of new competitive players. As e-commerce giant Amazon develops cashier-less Amazon Go physical stores, traditional grocers are introducing new ways to speed up checkout lines.

The balance between price and quality

Retailer cooperative Wakefern, the 8th largest grocer in PG’s ranking with 16 billion dollars of revenues, has become a leader in both click-and-collect and home delivery. The imminent arrival of Lidl, which will compete head-on with German peer Aldi, which entered the US in 1976 and is the number 10 in PG’s list, is putting pressure on food retailers to find the right balance between price and quality. This has translated in increased offering of premium private lines. Wegmans, who rose two spots from last year to reach the 15th place, stands out for price points and customer experience. The Rochester-based chain has announced plans to open its first store in Washington DC in 2021. Kroger, which also operates the banners Harris Teeter and Ralphs, is upbeat about its Simple Truth and Simple Truth Organic lines. H-E-B, which operates more than 370 stores in Texas and Mexico, and has a hold on the 6th place, in May launched partnerships with app-based grocery delivery services Shipt and Instacart in the San Antonio area to deliver groceries hand-selected by personal shoppers in as little as one hour. Shipt and Instacart will also partner with H-E-B’s upscale Central Market to provide on demand grocery delivery. Ahold Delhaize, with 43 billion dollars in the latest fiscal year whose top banners include Food Lion Stop & Shop and Hannaford, has moved up one-two notches to the fourth place in Progressive Grocer’s ranking. Schnucks Market, which has 100 stores and 2.7 billion dollars in revenues, is stable at No. 31, while Trader Joe’s and Hy Veeare respectively the No. 12 and No. 13.

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