View Full Version : Food fight: More competition, more choices

01-28-2007, 01:32 PM
Traditional grocery stores forced to battle with big-box retailers

Roberta Mand leaves a Wild Oats grocery store in Mason, Ohio. Mand goes to Kroger for routine grocery shopping, Costco for her fresh meats, Fresh Market for pre-made meals, and Wild Oats for sushi

When Roberta Mand needs groceries, she has a world of choices in her own backyard.

For regular shopping, she goes to her neighborhood Kroger Co. store. But for steaks, she prefers the Costco Wholesale Corp. store. For a pecan-encrusted tilapia to take home for dinner, she’s off to The Fresh Market. And if she’s hankering for sushi, she hits the Wild Oats Markets Inc. store a couple of minutes away.

“It just depends on what I’m looking for,” said Mand, a married mother of two who works from her suburban home and typically cooks five nights a week. “I like variety.”

These are spicy times for those who like variety in their grocery shopping choices, in price, selection and convenience. More retailers are using food to lure customers, intensifying competition while taking bites of the nearly $6,000 a year American households spend on groceries.

For most households, the days when nearly all grocery shopping was done weekly at a supermarket with a meticulously detailed list are fading into the past. Now there are club stores to buy in bulk at discount prices, supercenters for combining grocery with clothes and other shopping, specialty stores for gourmet choices, and, for quick pickups of basic grocery items and snacks, not just convenience stores but expanded gas stations, drugstores, dollar stores and big-box retailers.