IN A MARKET WHERE Supervalu has lost some of its distribution business in recent years, its Albertsons chain also seems to be losing market share.
The chain's market share fell to 8.7%, compared with 9.5% a year earlier, according to the latest data from Metro Market Studies, Tucson, Ariz.
“Those stores had a branding problem when they were part of the original Albertsons chain, and Supervalu hasn't done anything to establish a strong brand image for those stores in any fashion,” said Bert Hambleton, principal at Hambleton Resources, Issaquah, Wash.
“Before Supervalu, the stores seemed to follow a strategy du jour, and since Supervalu that still seems to be the case, with low prices emphasized one week and enhanced service the next.”
Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway is increasing its market share in Seattle, up slightly to 23.2%, compared with 23% a year ago.
“Seattle is still a Safeway market,” said Hambleton. “Some of the stores were in need of a facelift, and now that Safeway is almost through upgrading stores to the lifestyle format, it's getting a sales boost — though the drop in the economy has put those gains pretty much back at neutral.”
According to Art Turock, a consultant based in Kirkland, Wash., “Because of the presence of so many upscale independent players in the Seattle market, along with a handful of Whole Foods locations, consumers no longer perceive Safeway as being high-priced. In terms of pricing, Safeway is perceived as being fairly close to QFC.”
Quality Foods Centers — a division of Cincinnati-based Kroger — has seen its market share hold steady, moving to 16.5% this year compared with 16.6% last year.
Turock said QFC does a good job maintaining a low-price perception through its marketing programs, which include a variety of deals on multiple purchases (10-for-$10, four-for-$5) throughout the store.
Hambleton was more critical of QFC, noting that it has lost most of the unique aspects it had before Kroger acquired it in 1998.
Issaquah-based Costco continues to benefit from being the homegrown retailer, with attractive prices in a weak economy, increasing its share to 11.8% from 11% a year ago.
For Kroger-owned Fred Meyer, with its mix of food and general merchandise, sales picked up a notch, moving to 9.2% from 9% a year ago. (Combining QFC and Fred Meyer volume would give Kroger control of 25.7% in Seattle, slightly ahead of Safeway at No. 1.)
|RETAILER||STORES||MARKET SHARE '09||MARKET SHARE '08|
|Quality Food Centers||65||16.5||16.6|
|Haggen, Top Foods||17||5.6||5.7|
|PCC Natural Markets||9||1.6||1.3|
|Cash & Carry||12||1.4||1.5|
|Whole Foods Market||4||1.4||1.5|
Includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
SOURCE: Metro Market Studies