This probably isn't news if you live nearby, and there have been rumblings about it for some time, but it will still probably raise some eyebrows in Charlotte: Publix is opening two supermarkets later this year near Charlotte.
They're not listed with opening dates on the chain's website. But the signage is up, and "late 2012" is being publicly proclaimed as Publix's time frame.
Both stores will be in South Carolina, one in York County and one in Lancaster County. As the Charlotte Business Journal previously reported, the Lancaster County store is set for the new Cross Creek shopping center.
Here's a picture from the York County site, at Gold Hill and Pleasant roads. (Thanks to my colleague Mark Price for the photo and the heads-up).
The stores will be Publix's furthest foray north. As you can see in this store locator, their closest stores to Charlotte and North Carolina previously were in Columbia, S.C. and Greenville, S.C. Publix hasn't said yet whether it will actually push into N.C., where it currently has no stores.
Compared to Harris Teeter, the locally-owned higher-end general grocery store, Publix is a behemoth. Harris Teeter operates 204 stores, while Publix has more than 1,000.
Publix stock isn't publicly traded, being held by employees, directors and other company insiders, but Publix reports its financial results regularly. For the first nine months of its fiscal 2011, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix reported sales of $19.7 billion and profits of $1.1 billion. Harris Teeter, for its full fiscal 2011, reported sales of $4.3 billion and profits of $91. million.
Do you think Publix will cross the state line and jump directly on to Teeter's home turf? And do you think the Charlotte region's upscale grocery market can sustain Publix, other new entrant Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Earthfare and more?
UPDATE - for more information on the Cross Creek Publix store in Lancaster County, check out the developer's website.