store” for food
Primary Store Choice
The supermarket’s foundational role in the U.S. food retail landscape has remained
stable for the past five years, with about 50% using it as their primary store of choice.
as Trader Joe’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, Sprouts Farmers Markets, WinCo Foods, Walmart and Aldi.
The 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report from
Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute illustrates
a similar scattering of shopper trips across channels and,
in most cases, trending growth for formats with a strong
perceived price image. Today, just less than half of consumers (49%) identify the supermarket as their “primary store”
for food, with the remainder split between supercenters
(22%), club stores (5%), discount stores (3%), limited-assortment stores (5%) and organic/specialty stores (3%).
Another 8% say they have no primary market, while 5%
identify “other” channels (convenience, military commissaries, drugstores, ethnic and online). The study defines
discount stores as “conventional discount stores such as
supercenters without fresh meat or produce.” Aldi and Lidl
are identified in the limited-assortment store category.
Probably no single retailer has used the awakened consumer interest in price to better advantage than Aldi, which
is in the middle of a $5 billion expansion and remodeling
program that will bring the chain to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022. Aldi today casts a vastly different shadow than it did prior to the downturn. Though not
exactly a trend chaser, the tightly held German hard discounter was in position to capitalize on the timing of the
economic downturn, observers say.
Brian Numainville, principal of Retail Feedback Group,
Lake Success, N. Y., says that in addition to a continued
adherence to Aldi’s legendary efficiency—which allowed
it to skillfully serve its low-income shopper base during that
recessionary period—the discounter under CEO Jason Hart
did a few things wisely. Those include improvements to the
store atmosphere, to maintain the new shoppers it gained
during the recession; and an upgraded assortment, partic-
ularly with fresh foods and a new wave of private brands,
to draw a whole new breed of shoppers to the franchise.
Figures from the Retail Feedback Group’s Supermarket
Experience Study released this year indicate that 42% of
Aldi shoppers anticipated shopping there more often in the
next year, far outscoring conventional supermarkets and
even Walmart in that rating. Aldi shoppers were also more
likely to recommend the store to friends, the data showed.
“Our research shows that Aldi is indeed doing things that
appeal to shoppers,” Numainville says. “They have added
better-for-you brands, increasingly focused on fresh items;
expanded meat to include organic, grain-fed ground beef;
incorporated more messaging around well-being; and
removed products with hydrogenated oils, artificial colors
and MSG from stores.”
While Aldi declined to share specific customer data, its
VP of corporate buying, Scott Patton, told WGB, “People
are very conscious about what they eat and how much
they’re willing to pay for food. We continue to evolve our
products to meet shoppers’ changing habits and dietary
Supermarket Supercenter Club store Discount Limited assortment Organic/specialty No primary store
Percentage of shoppers
Source: 2019 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends
Note: Other channels (which include convenience, dollar, drug, ethnic, military and online only channels) selected as primary store not listed above account for 1% of
shoppers in 2015, 2% in 2016, 5% in 2017, 4% in 2018 and 5% in 2019.
5% 4% 1%
3% 2% 7% 4% 5%