Walmart’s #1 Grocery Store for Market Share in Charlotte

A supermarket chain continues to dominate the Charlotte area’s hyper-competitive and lucrative battle for market share for a third straight year, according to a new industry report released Wednesday.

It’s the third straight year for Walmart with more sales than any other local grocer, according to a report released this week by Chain Store Guide. The sales tracking company gets its data directly from grocery stores.

Walmart took 21.6% market share last year. This is up from 21.1% the previous year.

The Matthews Harris-based grocer Teeter, owned by The Kroger Co., is second for the third year, with a 17.6% market share. The market share gap between Walmart and Harris Teeter narrowed from a year earlier. Harris Teeter saw its market share increase, according to the survey, by 16.5% in 2020.

In 2019, Walmart knocked Harris Teeter off the top spot. Harris Teeter held the No. 1 spot for the previous three years.

Since 2011, Walmart and Harris Teeter have battled for No. 1.

Food Lion, based in Salisbury and owned by Ahold Delhaize, ranked third, claiming 14.7% market share last year, up from 15.4% in 2020.

Harris Teeter has 60 stores in the Charlotte area, one less than the previous year, compared to Walmart’s 28 supercenters. Food Lion has 103 regional stores, down one from 2020.

The trio of stores continue to capture more than half of all local grocery sales last year, despite increased competition from Publix, Lidl and Aldi, according to the report.

Grocery sales worth billions

Regional grocery store sales in 2021 totaled nearly $8.5 billion, according to the report.

Overall sales rose 2.4% from $8.2 billion a year earlier, which came despite people sheltering in their homes for much of 2020 due of the coronavirus pandemic.

The report considers the Charlotte area to include Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan and Union counties as well as Chester, Lancaster and York in South Carolina.

Other market shares

The intense regional grocery wars are also manifesting in the continued shattering of market share.

Rounding out the top 10 after Walmart, Harris Teeter and Food Lion were Publix, 9%; Sam’s Club, 6%; Target, 4.2%; Cotsco Wholesale, 3%; Aldi, 2.1% and Lidl, 2%. Among the top 10, only Target and Cotsco saw their market share increase slightly.

Market shares of other stores included: Whole Foods Market, 1.8%; General dollar, 1.8%; BJ, 1.7%; English, 1.3%; Trader Joe’s, .9%; and fresh market, 0.6%. Earth Fare returned after

Bi-Lo stores across the Carolinas closed in April of last year.

Charlotte’s Grocery Contest Expands

Competition for grocery sales is getting fiercer as more supermarkets develop expansion plans:

In February, Lowes Foods opened its “first of its kind” store with entertainment at 14021 Boren St. in Huntersville at the former Earth Fare site. The 25,000 square foot store is smaller than a typical store for the Winston-Salem-based grocer. The store – billed as a “community center” – offers events for children, prepared fruits and vegetables to take away, an expanded pick-up menu and a place to hold club and class meetings.

Lowes Foods, a subsidiary of Alex Lee at Hickory, has two other stores in the Charlotte area in Mooresville and Harrisburg, and plans to open another store next year in Concord to anchor the Christenbury Village mall.

Food Lion also opened new stores. A 48,000 square foot Food Lion store opened in January at 2201 West WT Harris Blvd., in a former Harris Teeter location. The store offers a hot bar, take-out food and local produce. Last spring, Food Lion opened a store at 1620 Ashley Road in northwest Charlotte, in the former location of Harveys supermarket.

Earth Fare has returned to the Charlotte market, reopening six stores that closed in 2019 after the company filed for bankruptcy. Asheville-based Hulsing Enterprises purchased the brand, resurrecting several of the specialty grocer’s locations, including Rock Hill, Fort Mill, SC, Davidson, Ballantyne and Concord. Its South Park location closed just months after it reopened.

In April 2021, Silicon Valley online-only grocer Farmstead extended its free delivery service to homes within an hour’s drive of its Westwood Forest warehouse in west Charlotte. The company opened its first East Coast hub in Charlotte in 2020.

Florida-based Publix plans to open at least five stores in the Charlotte area at the Arboretum, North Creek Village in Huntersville, the 10 Tryon building in downtown, at the corner of Sharon and Colony roads in South Park and at 11525 Carmel Commons.

In June, German discount grocer Lidl opened at 615 W. Mallard Creek Church Road in University City. In spring 2021, Lidl also opened a store in Steele Creek. Two more stores are planned at South Boulevard and Carmel Commons.

Kroger and technology company Ocado Group detailed detailed plans in December to open a $138 million grocery distribution center at 227 Highway 49 in Concord. It will add 722 jobs. Kroger received $7.2 million in state and local incentives, according to Cabarrus Economic Development Corp.

This story was originally published March 31, 2022 10:57 a.m.

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Catherine Muccigrosso is a retail journalist for The Charlotte Observer. An award-winning journalist, she has worked for several newspapers and McClatchy for over a decade.

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