Is Kroger winning the grocery wars?
Battered by a two-year price war and waging an expensive battle for superior home delivery, Kroger’s profits have taken a hit. But it has steadily increased sales even as it cuts prices.
New market share data shows Kroger getting traction in several of America’s largest metro areas over the past two years, according to industry tracker Chain Store Guide.
Kroger is the nation’s largest supermarket chain. Besides Kroger stores, the grocer operates several regional supermarket chains in 35 states, including Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, Ralphs, Mariano’s, Fry’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, QFC and others.
The data provides a before-and-after look of the grocery industry in the wake of Amazon’s 2017 takeover of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, which intensified already cutthroat competition.
Here in Cincinnati, Kroger’s share has increased 4.9% over the last two years to 49.3% of the region’s total $6.1 billion of groceries sales in 2018. That suggests Kroger’s stores are collectively raking in $300 million more than in 2016.
Most of that gain came from the rest of the region’s Top 5 grocers: Walmart, down 0.6%; Meijer, down 0.5%; Costco, down 0.3%; and Sam’s Club, down 1.4%. But Jungle Jim’s, Aldi, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s also lost market share.
Amber Fowler, a 38-year-old mother of three and a fitness instructor from Mount Washington in suburban Cincinnati, said she shops mostly at Kroger, but likes prepared and frozen items at other stores.
“We use a lot of Simple Truth items and their other store brands are affordable,” Fowler said. “I like Fresh Market, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s prepared and frozen foods for easy dinner options.”
Kroger competes against different sets of major players in the largest metro markets, but the Cincinnati-based grocer has mostly eked out gains.