retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In Minnesota, the Star Tribune reports on how Roundy's "is at the confluence of two trends that are reordering the U.S. supermarket industry."

According to the story, Roundy's "conventional grocery stores, including Rainbow Foods in the Twin Cities, have been hit hard by low-price competitors from Wal-Mart to Target to Costco. Once the Twin Cities’ No. 2 grocery chain, Rainbow is now fourth, and in the past 13 months it has targeted 15 percent of its stores here for closing.

"At the same time, a shift toward higher-end, niche stores has created opportunity elsewhere. Roundy’s is attacking the Chicago market with a new kind of store, Mariano’s Fresh Market, that mixes the best of a Rainbow with higher-end touches more associated with chains like Whole Foods or Lunds and Byerly’s."

Indeed, the Chicago Tribune has a story noting that "the first of 11 former Dominick's stores acquired by Mariano's is set to reopen under its new banner" today in in Park Ridge. "Launched in 2010 by former Dominick's executive Bob Mariano, his namesake chain opened its 14th Chicago-area location this month in Lake Zurich, with four more new stores planned for this year. The Dominick's acquisition will give it 29 stores by the end of 2014."
KC's View:
Or, to put it another way, the middle is shrinking, as competition gets tougher…which means that some companies - Roundy's is a prime example - decide that the upper end of the marketplace might be a more fertile place to play. And I see very little evidence that the trend of the vanishing middle is itself going to vanish anytime soon.