As the cost of groceries continues to rise, grocery stores nationwide are looking for ways to stay competitive and drive foot traffic. Following our analysis of the Midwest grocery market, we take a closer look at some of the most popular grocery chains in the Northeast and discover how a leading Northeastern chain is successfully remodeling locations and driving traffic gains.
And The NE Grocery Winner Is...
The grocery segment is highly regional, with many smaller regional chains flourishing throughout the country. And within the relatively small Northeast region, six grocery store chains claimed the largest share of visits as determined by the Placer.ai Brand Dominance Map for the Grocery category in February 2023.
Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, Massachusetts, was the most popular grocery chain in the region, taking the top spot in Connecticut (local shoppers visited the chain 37% of the time), Massachusetts (25%), and Rhode Island (45%). Hannaford, a Portland, Maine-based grocery chain, came in second and was the most popular grocery brand in Vermont and Maine, making up 34% and 68% of all grocery visits in the two states, respectively. The remaining statewide visit share leaders were The Giant Company (formerly known as Giant Food Store) in Pennsylvania (26% of visits), Wegmans in New York (13%), ShopRite in New Jersey (46%), and Market Basket in New Hampshire (38%).
Top Three By State
While five major brands commanded the majority of visits across the Northeast, plenty of other chains also enjoyed significant visit shares.
In Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, Shaw’s, a Massachusetts-based grocery chain, was the second most popular grocery retailer, making up 14%, 12%, and 25% of visits in those states, respectively. The chain also captured 15% of all grocery visits in New Hampshire.
Market Basket, another Massachusetts-based grocery chain, took second place in the Bay State with 23% of visits and was third most visited in Maine and Rhode Island, capturing 6% and 11% of all grocery visits in the two states, respectively. Several other chains took second or third place in one of the states, like ACME Markets in New Jersey, Wegmans in New York, Weis Markets and Giant Eagle in Pennsylvania, and Price Chopper in Vermont.
Stop & Shop: Massachusetts Madness
In the highly competitive grocery space, retailers are constantly vying for a larger slice of the grocery pie, and Stop & Shop has successfully carved out a dominant position in the Northeast. Despite its positioning, the company isn’t resting on its laurels but taking steps to cement its popularity further by widening its offerings to be more inclusive of shoppers across all income levels.
As part of this effort, Stop & Shop has begun a series of remodeling plans in Massachusetts and New York. In August 2022, the company completed renovations of a Dorchester, MA location, which now offers a Community Wellness Center and free nutrition programming. It is also the first store in the city to partner with Flashfood, a program designed to reduce food waste.
Since the launch, the Dorchester location has seen elevated foot traffic compared to the Massachusetts Stop & Shop statewide average. Year-over-three-year (YoY) foot traffic to the Dorchester location grew by 3.8% in Q4 2022, while overall foot traffic to Stop & Shop in Massachusetts declined by 8.8%. Unique visitors to the Dorchester location in Q4 2022 also grew 10.8% relative to 2019, indicating that the store’s remodel has significantly expanded its visitor base.
And although the remodel was intended to help the store combat food insecurity in its neighborhood, the median household income (HHI) in the location’s trade area actually increased 4.9%, going from from $38,284 a year in Q4 2019 to $40,151 for the same period in 2022. And while this is still significantly lower than the median HHI for Massachusetts, which stood at $81,215 per year, the increase in trade area median HHI indicates that the remodel has actually helped the store branch out and attract a broader range of Massachusetts residents.
New York State of Grocery
Stop & Shop is also making a $140 million capital investment in New York stores, with the goal of improving the overall shopping experience for local customers by ensuring that the assortment at each store reflects the diversity of the neighborhood it serves. And, like in Boston, has partnered with Flashfood and pledged $1 million to fight hunger in the city, cementing its commitment to community betterment.
The first remodel was unveiled in June 2022 at a Bronx, NY, location. The remodel has been met with a positive impact on its foot traffic trends, with visits increasing 3.6% Yo3Y and foot traffic showing growth in all months analyzed. Q4 2022 foot traffic grew 3.5% Yo3Y, while visits to Stop & Shop in New York State lagged by 8.7% for the same period – and the trade area median HHI increased as well.
The growth in foot traffic and visit and visitor growth following the remodel of the Bronx Stop & Shop location highlights once more how adapting a store’s offering to the community in which it is located can drive visits and enlarge the visitor base.
The Northeast Remembers
The grocery segment in the Northeast is quite diverse, with plenty of grocers capturing large percentages of market share. Still, there’s plenty of room for innovation and, as seen with Stop & Shop, a strong benefit to leaning into community outreach.
For more data-driven grocery insights, visit placer.ai/blog.