GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (FNS) -- Meijer Inc., the supercenter retailer based here, is on an aggressive expansion track that's expected to boost its store count and introduce its format to Indiana.
llion with 76 stores, eight of which were opened last year.
Nine openings are planned for this year, eight slated for Indiana. While Meijer executives declined to be interviewed, trade observers said big sales-volume increases may be in the offing since Meijer stores each generate annual sales of $60 million to $70 million. Store sizes run from 180,000 square feet to 220,000 square feet. "The secret of their success is food volume," one trade observer said. "Food generates traffic and a large number of shopping trips. General merchandise, which carries better profit margins, is cross-merchandised. It's a great strategy that has worked."
Stores are designed with food at one side and hardware at the other. Apparel, cosmetics and soft goods occupy the middle area, and a line of checkout counters stretches the length of the store's front.
If shoppers find assistance isn't immediately visible, there are bells throughout the store with signs inviting customers to ring for service.
It appears Meijer is satisfied with its food presentation as it's presently set up. Indeed, Meijer is said to be focusing much of its activity on refiguring its apparel assortments. According to Joyce Harding, a retail consultant with Retail Directions, Meijer began realigning its stores to focus more on fashion and branded apparel more than two years ago. Apparel was moved to the front of the stores, close to the cash registers, for greater prominence.
"Even if you're only there shopping for food, you're walking through ready-to-wear while you're waiting in line," Harding said. While activity such as this has positioned Meijer for its expansion, the chain suffered a blow recently through its foray into warehouse clubs. In the space of little more than a year, it opened and closed seven Source Club units, the last was shuttered early this year.
Meijer has said it decided to opt out of the membership-club business when it saw the club industry dwindle to two major players: Sam's Club and Price/ Costco. With that, Meijer decided to focus on its full-line stores.