Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

California Grocers Here We Come!

Ezra Carmel
July 19, 2023
California Grocers Here We Come!

In this blog, our ongoing analysis of grocery chains by region stays out west. And since California is an exceptionally large market – by population and area – this deep dive focuses solely on the Golden State, drawing on demographic and psychographic data to uncover how multiple grocers are finding foot traffic success. 

Sharing is Caring

California is a high-value grocery market due to its robust visitation. Since January 2023, year-over-year (YoY) grocery visits in the state have consistently outperformed the nationwide average. It could be that the return of mission-driven shopping behavior – which has curtailed visits in the grocery space as a whole – is less prevalent in California where consumers are heavily car-dependent. Therefore, when it comes to habitual grocery stops, consumers in some of the state’s biggest cities likely haven’t taken their foot off the gas. 

Unlike states in other regions, California’s visit share winners lead the pack by a thin margin. This is likely to do with the fact that the grocery space in California has some distinctive geographic divisions, with different brands taking the top spot in different regions within the state. But the state’s large population means even a small percentage of total grocery visits has big implications for brands. 

Safeway – the dominant grocer in the state with 11% of the grocery visit share – has its locations concentrated in Northern California, while Ralphs – the second-place contender, with 9% of the state’s grocery visits – serves Southern California. Still, there are exceptions to California’s regional grocery dynamics. Trader Joe’s – with 7% of the grocery visit share – has locations statewide. 

Value Visits

Zooming in on the grocery brands that are driving California’s YoY visit growth shows that while multiple chains had a generally positive first half of 2023, Food 4 Less punched well above its weight. While the chain only claimed 5% of the state’s grocery visits share in June 2023, Food 4 Less’ YoY visit growth outperformed the top three chains in the state for the majority of H1 2023. 

Food 4 Less may be finding success due to its value perception among consumers looking to stretch their grocery budgets in the face of food inflation. Still, June 2023 saw an improvement in YoY visits from the previous month for all four of the grocers analyzed. And since food inflation is finally showing signs of cooling, this could indicate that some consumers are returning to grocery stores across the board. 

Demographic Deep-Dive: Food 4 Less and Trader Joe’s 

A closer look at the demographic characteristics of visitors to Trader Joe’s and Food 4 Less – the two California grocers analyzed with YoY visit growth every month of H1 2023 – reveals how multiple chains can find success in a dynamic economic landscape. Trader Joe’s has been able to drive visits from more affluent consumers – some of whom may have traded down from premium grocers – and Food 4 Less is resonating with consumers from large households that are likely to continuously replenish their supplies. 

In H1 2023, the median household income (HHI) of Food 4 Less’ California visitors was 28% below the state average, while the median HHIs of visitors to Trader Joe’s was 23% above. Food 4 Less’ visitors also came from households that were – on average –  21% larger than the California average while Trader Joe’s visitors came from households with 11% fewer persons per household than the state average. 

This suggests that Trader Joe’s has benefitted from higher-income consumers that have either been more resilient to the effects of inflation or traded down from premium grocers, while Food 4 Less has capitalized on larger households whose demand for food-at-home means they simply can’t cut back on grocery trips. Due to the rising cost of eating out, these multi-person households are also likely to be cutting back on restaurant visits – compounding the need for more grocery runs. 

Bagging it Up

Competition for grocery visits in California is fierce with no one brand claiming a significantly larger visit share than the others. Still, with California’s large population, garnering even a small share of total grocery visits amounts to hefty foot traffic. Ralphs and Safeway do well by taking the number one and two spots, splitting the state’s largest population centers – Northern and Southern California. 

California’s grocery foot traffic has proven its resilience in the face of inflation as value-oriented chains like Trader Joe’s and Food 4 Less come up big with both high-income consumers and large households. 

For updates and more data-driven foot traffic insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Text Link
Text Link
Trader Joe's
Digging Into Darden: Q2 2024 Update
2024 Retail and Dining Trends Update
TRU and avid: Midscale Hotels on the Rise 
Diving Into Kroger: A Strong Start to 2024 Mall Index: May 2024 Recap – Mall Visits on the Rebound Office Index: May 2024 Recap
2024 Memorial Day Recap
Las Vegas: A Tourism and Migration Deep Dive
Eatertainment Chains: Full on Food, Fun, and Foot Traffic
The Promise of Luxury Apparel
Catching Up With Ulta Beauty & Gap Brands
Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Five Below: Q1 2024 Treasure Troves
CAVA Still Going Strong
Driving Success: Auto Parts Chains in 2024
Checking in With DICK’S Sporting Goods
Mother’s Day Shopping and Dining Trends Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring
Dollar Stores Still Gaining Momentum
Off-Price Apparel Chains After Q1 2024: Demographics in the Balance
Walmart, Target, and Wholesale Clubs Continue to Thrive
Home Improvement and Decor Check In Office Index: April 2024 Recap – Recovery Continues
Movie Theaters in Q1 2024: A Preview of Coming Attractions?
Let’s Get Physical: Fitness In 2024
Where Are Workers Returning to Office in 2024?
2024 Wins: Sweetgreen & First Watch on the Rise
A Full-Service Turnaround: Bloomin’, Dine, and Texas Roadhouse
Wendy’s and Denny’s: Breakfast and Late Night Dining Drives Success
Coffee Chains: Q1 2024 Update and What’s Changed Since COVID
Checking in with RBI and YUM!
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success
Wingstop & Shake Shack Continue Growing Their Reach 
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024? White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy Mall Index: February 2024 Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024:’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note