Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Walmart adding supermarket in Gastonia

Walmart is planning to add a new Walmart Neighborhood Market - the mega-retailer's version of a supermarket - in Gastonia, the Gaston Gazette reports.

In Charlotte, Walmart debuted its Neighborhood Markets with a store on Independence Boulevard in February. The company is planning a second Charlotte Walmart Neighborhood Market on North Sharon Amity Road near W.T. Harris Boulevard - a move that sparked an outcry from Compare Foods, the shopping center's current grocery tenant.

The move into Gastonia signals that Walmart is planning to continue its expansion into the region's grocery market, where it's already been a major disruptive player. The Gastonia store would be near South New Hope Road and Redbud Drive. Walmart is also planning a Neighborhood Market in a former Winn-Dixie location in Kings Mountain, the Shelby Star reports.

The idea behind the Neighborhood Markets is pretty simple: The majority of goods sold at a Walmart Supercenter are groceries and other consumables. But Supercenters are about 182,000 square feet, about four times the size of a traditional supermarket. People don't like shopping in enormous stores when all they want is some milk and cereal, so Walmart is basically building traditional supermarkets with Supercenter low pricing.

Walmart now has almost 300 Neighborhood Markets open, which would make the company a larger grocery chain than Harris Teeter if it were a standalone entity. Walmart plans to keep opening Neighborhood Markets over the next few years, bringing the total to 500.

All that added competition for the same limited number of shoppers' grocery dollars is pressuring many retailers. Harris Teeter cited competition from discounters such as Walmart as one of the factors behind its decision to sell itself to Kroger (That deal is expected to close this month or next year in the first quarter). The pressure also hurt grocers who used to be low-price leaders such as Food Lion, which has had to cut back, and Winn-Dixie, which was pushed into bankruptcy.