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ShopRite Seeks to Win Over Shoppers in New Markets

ShopRite Seeks to Win Over Shoppers in New Markets

My brother, a professional chef and a finicky food shopper for his

family of five, never cared much for the offerings at the traditional chain supermarkets in his area.

But when a new ShopRite opened near his home in New Jersey a few years ago, he gave it a try. After a few months, he praised ShopRite's pricing, its deli and its butchers. His only complaint: “It's always so packed with people shopping. It's nuts.”

Obviously, that's a problem a lot of supermarket operators would love to have.

As ShopRite expands into more new markets — its first store in the Albany, N.Y., area debuted this month, and it is ramping up its presence in Maryland — it will increasingly need to educate shoppers like my brother about its value offering.

In New Jersey, that offering drives sales per square foot of selling space of more than $1,000 a year at many stores.

“It's going to be a journey to where people understand our way of doing business — the great sales we have, the can-can sales, the great Thanksgiving sales,” said Bill Sumas, vice chairman of Village Super Market, a 28-store ShopRite operator, speaking about his company's first two store openings in Maryland in July.

ShopRite's way of doing business is to drive heavy traffic with extremely sharp promotions, obtained through the buying power of the Wakefern Food Corp. cooperative and complemented by an array of in-store service offerings.

As it takes on local powerhouses in its new markets, including Price Chopper and Hannaford Bros. in New York and Giant and Safeway in Maryland, it will face a sterner test than it has lately from its bankrupt rival, A&P.

ShopRite has been cutting through A&P like a hot knife through butter — witness Village's 7.7% comp-store sales in the most recent quarter — but its new competition isn't as likely to melt away in the face of ShopRite's promotional prowess.

SN recognized ShopRite with the 2011 Retail Excellence award, not just for the success it has had, but also for the bold risks it is taking by seeking to grow in new markets. It won't be an easy road, but as A&P has learned the hard way, ShopRite is in it for the long haul.