Business

Food Lion lowers prices on thousands of items

The Food Lion on Park Road in Dilworth
The Food Lion on Park Road in Dilworth ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

About a month after its parent company was bought by a competitor, Food Lion says it has lowered prices on thousands of staple items after “extensive customer research.”

The products with reduced price tags include frequently purchased groceries like peanut butter and canned beans, as well as household items like paper towels and detergent, according to a statement from the Salisbury-based grocer. The price cuts began Monday in all Food Lion stores.

The lower prices come at a time when competition is heating up in Charlotte’s grocery industry, with more competitors edging into the market. Wal-Mart has been adding more Neighborhood Market stores, which are about the size of a standard grocery store. Publix is expanding aggressively in the area, and specialty grocer The Fresh Market is building its fifth Charlotte location.

According to data from sales-tracking firm Chain Store Guide, Food Lion is one of the few area grocers whose market share increased this year from last, though it remains No. 3 behind Wal-Mart and Harris Teeter.

The decision to lower prices was unrelated to the sale of Food Lion’s parent company last month and was planned well before it, Christy Phillips-Brown, Food Lion’s spokeswoman, told the Observer.

After it was acquired by Cincinnati-based Kroger last year, Matthews-based Harris Teeter also lowered prices on thousands of items across its stores. Harris Teeter said the price cuts were made possible by “better efficiencies” from the merger.

Food Lion said it will add new signage throughout its stores to indicate certain offers: “Hot Sale” indicates weekly specials for MVP loyalty card holders, “WOW” pertains to lower prices on popular items offered for longer periods of time, and “Low Price” applies to “essential items” throughout the store with modest price tags.

Food Lion said the price cuts are part of its new store concept focused on fresh products and low prices called “Easy, Fresh and Affordable,” which also includes a new customer-centric way of training its 63,000 employees.

So far, the supermarket chain has remodeled 76 stores as part of the new strategy in Wilmington and Greenville, N.C., markets and will complete another 160 stores in Raleigh markets by the end of this year.

Food Lion, the No. 3 supermarket chain in Charlotte by market share, operates 106 grocery stores across the Charlotte region and a total of 1,100 stores across 10 Southeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

Last month, Delhaize, the Brussels-based parent company of Food Lion, agreed to sell itself to Dutch retailer Ahold in a deal that will create the fifth-largest supermarket operator in the U.S.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta

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