December 12, 2012

Competition may cut cost of groceries in Maine

Market Basket's 2013 arrival in Maine will put pressure on other food sellers, such as Hannaford and Shaw's.

By Jessica Hall
Staff Writer

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In this November 2011 file photo, the Hannaford store at Mill Creek in South Portland. Consumers in Maine could see lower prices for groceries in the next year as competition among supermarkets intensifies, analysts say.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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During the past year, Shaw's has lowered prices, changed its merchandising mix and implemented several new offerings. Shaw's said it will continue to evaluate its business and identify new ways it can provide the "great shopping experience our customers want."

Hannaford spokesman Michael Norton said, "Competition is always good and makes all the various food retailers better."

Hannaford is still the physical market leader in Maine, with 56 stores and two more proposed. The company has grown steadily since 2002, when it had 46 stores in Maine.

In comparison, Target has five stores in Maine, three of them with fresh-grocery sections. Walmart has 22 locations in Maine, as does Shaw's.

Discounters like Walmart and Target are selling more groceries to lure shoppers to their stores, where most shoppers will also buy higher-margin, more profitable housewares and clothing.

According to a Consumer Reports poll released in May, Walmart and Shaw's were the nation's second- and third-worst rated food retailers, respectively.

Consumer Reports rated Walmart negatively in areas including customer service and cleanliness, while Shaw's rated poorly in pricing. The worst-ranked grocery chain was Pathmark, which does not have stores in Maine.

Despite complaints about Walmart, consumers still go there for its bargains.

For the year ending Jan. 31, groceries represented 55 percent of Walmart's $264 billion in U.S. sales, up from 41 percent four years ago.

For Target, food accounted for 19 percent of the $68 billion in sales for 2011.


Staff Writer Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:


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