Henrico’s grocery wars

By the time you finish reading this column, another grocer will have announced plans to open a new store in Henrico County.

Ok, maybe not quite. But doesn’t it feel that way?

Since last fall:
• Kroger has opened its newest “superstore” on Staples Mill Road at Hungary Spring Road;

• high-end grocer Wegman’s announced plans to enter the metro market with a store in Short Pump that could open next year;

• plans for a second Aldi grocery store in Henrico – across the street from Kroger’s new store and adjacent to a shopping center that includes a Food Lion – were endorsed this week by the county’s Planning Commission, while work on the first store (on Parham Road near Three Chopt) begins;

• Walmart opened a new store (and attached grocery section) on Forest Avenue and announced last month that it would bring another store to Eastern Henrico next year on the site of Fairfield Commons Mall;

• Walmart also announced plans to locate a Neighborhood Market – a smaller, grocery-themed version of its stores – in northern Henrico, on Brook Road near Azalea Avenue;

• Martin’s confirmed that it’s considering building a new store just across the street from that Walmart site (on the vacant Azalea Mall site).

The five certain new entries will join four existing Walmarts, nine Martin’s, seven Krogers, 12 Food Lions, one Whole Foods, one Trader Joe’s, a BJ’s Superstore, a Costco and two Sam’s Clubs in Henrico County. In total, that’s at least 43 chain grocery stores in the county, not to mention a handful of smaller and independent stores that push the total number closer to 50.

Conclusion: We really must love to eat.

At this rate, Henrico County’s slogan – “Proud of our progress, excited about our future” – may need an addendum: “…and about our next meal.”

An industry rule of thumb is that it takes a population of at least 15,000 people to support a full-service grocery store of roughly 40,000 square feet. But in Henrico (total population of about 317,000) it apparently takes less than half that number.

Can the market sustain such a heaping helping of grocery options, or will this bubble burst when the new entries open?

If recent history is any indicator, bet on the former. In recent years, only five full-service grocery stores in Henrico have closed: two Food Lions (one on Ridgefield Parkway and one on Quioccasin Road), a Kroger at Brook and Parham roads, a Martin’s at Gayton Crossing (where it sat adjacent to a Kroger) and a Farmer’s Foods in Highland Springs.

But during that same time period, Kroger has opened two new stores in the county and Walmart one, resulting in a net loss to county shoppers of just two total stores. That will become a net gain once the additional stores open.

In the meantime, Henrico shoppers should feel good about all their options. After all, you could live in Chesterfield (population of 327,000), where residents have a total of only 30 full-service grocery stores from which to choose.
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017
S M T W T F S
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The Varina Library, located at 1875 New Market Rd., will hold a book sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a wide variety of books, DVDs and CDs available, all at discount prices. All proceeds benefit Friends of the Varina Area Library. For details, call 501-1980 or visit http://www.henricolibrary.org. Full text

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