The Friday Checkout: Grocery sales are up, but discount stores are reaping the benefits

 | discount shopping

Welcome to The Friday Checkout — Grocery Dive’s weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.

Grocery sales increased 8.3% in June, according to the latest estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau — a solid month’s performance for the industry.

But that result masks what’s become a very turbulent shopping landscape. Consumers are feeling battered from rising prices and changing their habits as a result. Research shows they’re buying more private labels, condensing trips and eating more at home.

They’re also venturing toward discount stores. Scott Patton, Aldi’s vice president of national buying for the U.S., recently told Insider the chain saw 2.5 million new customers shop from their stores. Most of those were middle- and high-income consumers, he noted. 

That could spell trouble for traditional grocers that aren’t always known for having the lowest prices in town. For shoppers tired of paying north of $5 per gallon for gas, Save A Lot’s recent offer of being able to buy a family meal for around that price becomes rather enticing. 

But by and large, these grocers are still faring pretty well, if recent traffic data is any indication. Second quarter foot traffic at companies like Acme Markets, Weis Markets and Publix is trending well above what they saw three years ago, pre-pandemic, according to results from Placer.ai.

June foot traffic to Acme was up 17% in June over the same period in 2019, while at Weis traffic was up 8.6% over the same period. This indicates that, while traditional grocers might not be as hot as discounters right now, they’re still benefiting from at-home eating trends spurred by inflation and the ongoing pandemic.

H-E-B is expanding its e-commerce fulfillment footprint in Texas.

Courtesy of H-E-B

 

In case you missed it

H-E-B growing e-commerce facility footprint

The Texas grocery chain announced it has opened a 50,000-square-foot e-commerce fulfillment center in Leander, Texas, to support curbside and delivery orders and its “longstanding presence in the area.” The grocer opened its second store in Leander late last year. 

H-E-B expects the new facility will employ more than 150 people. It marks the fifth e-commerce fulfillment center the grocer has opened since 2018 and one of several set to open this year, including one in Plano, Texas, to support expansion into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The grocer didn’t specify how many future facilities are planned. 

The grocery chain noted the area of Central Texas where the Leander facility is located is a “rapidly growing part of the state.” 

C-suite changes continue at Dollar Tree

Following a shakeout that saw several top executives leaving the company, discount chain Dollar Tree has welcomed a new chief information officer (CIO). Bobby Aflatooni, most recently executive vice president and CIO for The Howard Hughes Corporation, has filled the role after the quick exit of former CIO Andy Paisley.

Paisley was among a group of Dollar Tree C-suite members — including Chief Legal Officer William Old, Chief Operating Officer Thomas O’Boyle and Chief Strategy Officer David Jacobs — who recently parted ways with the company after an activist investor-led revamp of its board. Kevin Wampler is also planning to step down from serving as its chief financial officer once a successor is found.

Aflatooni brings more than nine years of experience at Dollar General, serving as the competitor’s CIO for nearly three years and as senior vice president of infrastructure, according to Aflatooni’s LinkedIn profile. Aflatooni also brings experience from information technology roles at several other companies, including Yum! Brands and Capital One Auto Finance.

Dollar Tree said Aflatooni’s appointment is the “first of a number of executive additions related to our recently announced leadership changes.” The company also said it’s pushing its Investor Day from October 2022 to spring 2023.

ClusterTruck shuts down Kroger location

ClusterTruck is closing its operations on Friday at a Kroger in Fishers, Indiana, The Indianapolis Star reported. The 1,200-square-foot ghost kitchen opened there in October 2020, according to the newspaper.