ShopRite edges Acme in Philadelphia-area grocery sales

Acme Markets president Dan Sanders (second from right) talks at the chain's Concordville store with company executives (from left) Ajay Kanwar, Tom Miller, and Don Croce.
Acme Markets president Dan Sanders (second from right) talks at the chain's Concordville store with company executives (from left) Ajay Kanwar, Tom Miller, and Don Croce. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 29, 2011

After years of watching competitors cut into its local lead in supermarket sales, Acme Markets fell into second place over the last year, dethroned by ShopRite, according to an annual survey published by Food Trade News.

ShopRite, ringing up $1.7 billion in sales across the eight-county Philadelphia region, grabbed the top spot from Acme, which has struggled to cut costs by shutting down underperforming stores and recently laid off 900 part-time employees.

The survey studied the period from April 1, 2010, through March 31. During that time, Acme's sales were $1.6 billion, a drop from $1.8 billion a year earlier, according to data published this week in the trade publication's June editions.

Giant was in third place, with sales of $1.5 billion. Super Fresh and Pathmark, whose parent corporation, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., declared bankruptcy in December, came in fourth at $851 million, down from $1 billion a year ago. Genuardi's, part of the Safeway chain, was fifth at $734 million.

ShopRite, whose stores are independently owned rather than corporate-controlled, made its sales gains without adding to its store count of 43, said Food Trade News publisher Jeff Metzger. The grocery chain did it, he said, with attractive prices and inventory, even though it, too, is operating in a competitive market that includes Wawa convenience stores, as well as Wal-Mart and Target.

"When you've got an A-plus student," Metzger said of ShopRite, "it'll probably be an A-plus student in any environment."

ShopRite's ascent, and that of other growing supermarket chains such as Giant, Wegmans, and Whole Foods, came at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in sales that used to be rung up at Acme's cash registers.

Three years ago, Acme had $2 billion in sales at 78 stores. That was $400 million more than it collected over the survey period at 69 stores. The decline came despite efforts, begun late last year, to drop prices on products that Acme officials say are perceived by shoppers to be high.

"Even though they're claiming how they were more in tune to competitive pricing, I think more is a relative word, and I don't think the consumer has really bought into that," Metzger said.

Genuardi's lost $150 million in sales and closed six stores. Super Fresh and Pathmark also lost about $150 million in sales as seven stores closed.

Among those growing in market share, sixth-place Wegmans collected $372 million at six stores, and 10th-place Whole Foods had $192 million in sales at eight stores.

Discount chains Redner's (ninth place) and Save-A-Lot (seventh place) also increased sales, while sales at Thriftway/Shop 'n Bag (eighth place) were flat.


Contact staff writer Maria Panaritis at 215-854-243, mpanaritis@phillynews.com, or @panaritism on Twitter.

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