SANFORD, Fla. — Albertsons' and Winn-Dixie's losses in Florida have become Aldi's gain.
Batavia, Ill.-based Aldi, which made its debut in the Sunshine State last week, has been able to pick up several former Albertsons and Winn-Dixie locations that have been shuttered during the last few years.
Its first Florida store was built here from the ground up on an empty site, as are most of the limited-assortment operator's stores in the U.S., but many of the 25 planned Florida units will be in former traditional supermarkets.
“We would prefer to build from the ground up, but in this market, we are about 50-50 [about 50% of its stores are leased in existing buildings],” said David Behm, vice president of Aldi's Haines City, Fla., division. He said leasing existing sites allows the company to ramp up its Florida presence more quickly.
Aldi executives believe they can take advantage of the harsh economic climate particularly in Florida, which has a depressed real estate market and one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.
“Customers are starting to move away from traditional supermarkets and looking for a value,” Behm said. At the same time, he stressed that Aldi is not targeting only low- to middle-income shoppers looking for a bargain.
“We target the smart shopper, whether that is middle-, lower- or higher-income shoppers,” Behm said.
The average household income in the Sanford store's market is $55,000 a year.
Also located within a mile of the store are major retail and club store chains, an environment that Aldi prefers to operate in, according to Behm. The store is next to a BJ's Wholesale Club unit and less than half a mile away from a large shopping mall and shopping district, which includes a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a SuperTarget.
“We want to be in an area where people are used to shopping. We like the area; there is a mall nearby and national retailers,” said Behm, who is not fazed by competition from the BJ's store next door. “It certainly can't hurt. Anyone who shops at a supercenter looks for value.”
Aldi is No. 9 on SN's Top 25 Global list: