What's In Store

Lidl has a few grocery stores in the area but none in Charlotte. That may change soon

A Lidl store is under construction at 9318 Monroe Road in southeast Charlotte.
A Lidl store is under construction at 9318 Monroe Road in southeast Charlotte. kperalta@charlotteobserver.com

It’s been about a year and a half since the German grocer Lidl made its splashy debut in the region with a store in Indian Land, S.C., just over the state line. Lidl has since opened stores in Rock Hill, Indian Trail and Concord. Despite Lidl’s nearby openings, it has yet to open a store within Charlotte city limits.

But that could soon change.

Lidl recently began construction for its first Charlotte store on Monroe Road, which is slated to open this year, according to spokesman Will Harwood.

And this month, Lidl filed a rezoning petition for 2.84 acres at the corner of South Tryon Street and Moss Road in southwest Charlotte. The company also owns property on Mallard Creek Church Road in north Charlotte, according to property records.

“We are eager to expand in Charlotte. We’re working through the process now,” Harwood told the Observer.

Momentum on store openings in Charlotte follows stalled projects at a few locations throughout the region that customers may have noticed.

In South End, buildings were cleared in 2017 from the property at 3229 South Blvd., which Lidl bought for $4.9 million in January 2016, property records show. But progress on construction slowed, and the property is now overgrown. Lidl has said the project is on hold.

Development of a store in Mooreville is also on hold.

In 2017, Lidl told the town that it “decided to (temporarily) suspend the construction progress” of a store on Williamson Road, which was rezoned for a 36,170-square-foot grocery store in 2015.

Correcting a mistake

Explaining Lidl’s slowed pace of growth in the U.S. last year, the CEO of the grocer’s parent company said Lidl’s U.S. stores are too large and expensive to run. The first stores Lidl opened in the U.S. are around 20,000 square feet, roughly half the size of a typical Harris Teeter.

“If you recognize a mistake, you have to correct it,” Klaus Gehrig told the German business publication Manager Magazin.

Now, Lidl is building some stores that are slightly smaller than that. The Monroe Road store, for instance, will be about 15,000 square feet.

Harwood said the grocery chain is opening stores of all sizes, on company-owned as well as on leased property.

“We’re being agile with how we’re looking at stores,” he said.

Lidl stocks its stores with mostly products made by its private labels, meaning they are made just for Lidl and are cheaper (and more profitable for Lidl) than national brands. Lidl competes closely for customers with another low-cost German grocer, Aldi, which is spending $48 million to renovate 31 supermarkets in the Charlotte metro area.

According to a study from UNC Chapel Hill last year, when Lidl enters a new market, other grocery stores tend to respond by dropping prices to stay competitive.

Lidl opened its first Charlotte-area store Sept. 21 in Indian Land

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As the retail and sports business reporter for the Observer, Katie Peralta covers everything from grocery-store competition in Charlotte to tax breaks for pro sports teams. She is a Chicago native and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.