Outside of California or New York, North Carolina has one of the largest pools of homegrown grocery store brands – Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Lowes Foods, The Fresh Market, Earth Fare and Ingles are all based in North Carolina. And for years, each of the brands have worked their specialty niche and found ways to co-exist even as each was working to take grocery market share from another.
But not since the mighty Wal-Mart started building its behemoth supercenter stores across the state has the North Carolina grocery market faced a future of such change, according to a panel of retail experts who addressed the NAIOP Raleigh Durham chapter meeting last week.
By one estimation, they said, close to 42 new grocery stores have already been identified and are in various stages of site location, planning and construction.
By another measure, there’s close to 1.5 million square feet of new grocery store space that could be added to the Triangle market’s inventory of 8 million square feet grocery store space in the region over the next two to four years.
“One reason is just the strength of our economy. The other is just chance and our position on the East Coast, where we happen to be,” said Charlie Coyne, director of retail services for the Triangle and Triad markets for CBRE-Raleigh, addressing NAIOP group. “One grocery store that starts with a W is moving south, and one grocery store that starts with a P is moving north, and we’re in the crosshairs right now.”
To date, the Florida-based Publix grocery chain has opened three stores in the Triangle region and confirmed four more, a number that is likely grow as the company secures more sites,
New York-based Wegmans has no stores in North Carolina but has confirmed plans for at least four locations for its 120,000-square-foot store prototype in the Triangle region. Each should be able to start breaking ground in the next couple of years, but the company has not yet disclosed its construction timetable.