Coming soon to a corner near you: at least one new grocery store.
There's a lot of excitement over the long-awaited arrival of Trader Joe's in 2014, but several other stores are bracing for a fight over your grocery dollars.
South Florida residents are heading into a 2014 that's promising to bring at least 14 new grocery sites between Broward and Palm Beach counties. From low-priced Walmart Neighborhood Markets to organic The Fresh Market to quirky Trader Joe's, consumers' food options are increasing as grocers strengthen their local footprint.
What will they bring to the table?
Attractive prices, top quality products and a customized, social shopping experience, industry experts say.
"Shoppers will do their research," said Lorrie Griffith, editor of The Shelby Report, a trade publication based in Georgia. "They'll make a determination on where to shop based on their needs for that week."
If they are having a party, for instance, and want to serve their guests an array of cheeses from different countries, shoppers may opt for The Fresh Market, she said. But if they want to stock up on household supplies they may go to another retailer where that may be cheaper.
"You just have more choices," Griffith said.
The biggest buzz in South Florida next year will be the arrival of four Trader Joe's in Palm Beach County and one in Broward. California-based Trader Joe's has announced plans for stores in Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington and Pembroke Pines. The first store is expected to open by May in Boca Raton, according to City Council discussions.
Trader Joe's has a zealous following known for camping outside stores for hours on opening days and cramming parking lots. It was the case when the first South Florida store opened in October in Pinecrest.
Trader Joe's is highly popular for its wine selection (some priced under $3) and for its private-label assortment — about 80 percent of products at the tropical-themed stores bear the Trader Joe's brand.
The privately held grocery chain declined to comment on its South Florida expansion plans.
Aldi, owned by the same German family that operates Trader Joe's, is also opening at least two stores next year in Broward and Palm. Expect to see the blue, orange and yellow logo signs in Plantation and Palm Springs by early 2014. The company already has eight other stores in the region.
Texas-based organic grocer Whole Foods Market, with 20 stores in Florida — 10 of those in South Florida — plans to open stores in Pompano Beach and in West Palm Beach next year. The shops are slated to be up and running by fall.
Whole Foods says it's capitalizing on a growing population that's interested in eating healthier and supporting local producers. Several Whole Foods stores feature products and baked goods made by members of the local community, which helps them attract customers, the company said.
"We are not just a grocery store, we are involved with the community," said Juan Nuñez, president of the Florida region for Whole Foods Market.
Regarding the opening of several other grocers in the region — including The Fresh Market's upcoming locations in Plantation, Delray Beach and Jupiter — Nuñez said competition is always healthy.
"Others have to up their game," he said.
Over the past decade, grocers have been losing about 15 percent of the market share to other outlets, such as drug chains and dollar stores which have began selling food, said Phil Lempert, a grocery industry expert and editor of SupermarketGuru.com.
"What supermarkets are starting to do is fight back and personalize their offerings," Lempert said. "In 2014, we'll see huge changes in supermarkets. They're being much smarter than ever before."
Lakeland-based Publix, with 82 stores in Broward and 74 in Palm Beach County, teaches customers cooking techniques at its culinary schools and recently began offering catering services, all of which will carry over into 2014.
"Shoppers trust us with their weekly shopping. Now they can also trust us to come into their homes and cater their events," said Nicole Krauss, a Publix spokeswoman.
Krauss did not outline new Publix stores opening in 2014, but said at least three of them would be upgraded in Weston, Hollywood and Boynton Beach.
Winn-Dixie is also on a roll to expand its stores and department selections to best match the needs of the communities they serve. Some South Florida stores have increased their kosher offerings.
Tony Jorges, regional vice president for Winn-Dixie, says the Jacksonville-based grocer believes it has a competitive edge with its fuel rewards program — offering customers gas discounts as a shopping incentive, and by continuing to make a name for themselves with their high-quality beef selection.
"We are known as The Beef People," he said.
The world's largest retailer, Arkansas-based Walmart, is adding a Supercenter with groceries in Boca Raton next year and a Neighborhood Market in Delray Beach, a smaller-store format exclusively focused on groceries.
The average shopper buys food from at least nine different channels, including restaurants, convenience and grocery stores, said Lempert, the industry expert.
"Supermarkets are trying to build a stronger image and a stronger relationship with shoppers to change that behavior," he said.
Will it work in South Florida? We shall see. All that competition — friendly or otherwise — will be fun to watch.
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