The German grocery chain Lidl opened its first 10 stores in the U.S., including several in the Carolinas, on Thursday. Charlotte shoppers have probably noticed Lidl stores under construction around town, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer for the stores to open.
North Carolina customers got their first glance of what Lidl stores look like in Kinston, Greenville, Sanford, Rocky Mount and Winston-Salem. The chain also opened South Carolina stores in Spartanburg and Greenville, and Virginia stores in Virginia Beach and Hampton.
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At about 20,000 square feet, Lidl’s U.S. stores are roughly half the size of a typical grocery store – think an average Harris Teeter supermarket in Charlotte. Lidl has described the store layouts as “easy-to-shop,” with just six aisles and a smaller inventory of products.
About 90 percent of the brands Lidl carries are private-label, meaning they’re made just for Lidl (and are more profitable.) Lidl says its prices are up to 50 percent lower than those at other traditional grocery stores, too.
The grocer also carries an array of organic and gluten-free options, a curated wine selection, freshly baked goods and fresh produce. The company opened its U.S. headquarters in Virginia in 2016.
Throughout the Charlotte area, Lidl has several stores under construction, including in South End, Mooresville and Rock Hill. Lidl has not said, however, when it plans to open stores in the area.
At a time when Charlotte’s established grocers keeping growing in size, competition among Charlotte’s low-cost grocers with smaller store footprints is also intensifying. Lidl’s rival, Aldi, this week said it plans to invest $3.4 billion to expand its footprint to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022. The grocer hasn’t said where it plans to grow, but it has been ramping up hiring in the area.