Wednesday, April 16, 2014
SOUTH PORTLAND — Target plans to spend about $1 million to expand food offerings at its Maine Crossing store, but it isn't expected to create a full grocery like the Walmart Supercenter about a mile away.
The department store company received a permit from the city in late October to do mostly interior renovation work.
It has not started construction.
The permit allows installation of more reach-in freezers and coolers, along with associated heating, cooling and electrical work, said Pat Doucette, South Portland's deputy planning and development director.
The permit also allows some minor exterior work around the entrance, but there will be no increase in the size of the building.
A call to Target's media line seeking information was not returned Wednesday, but it sounds like South Portland will get a "PFresh" Target store, said David Livingston, a supermarket researcher based in Wisconsin.
Livingston said he doesn't know where the name comes from, but the approach allows Target to offer more products, such as some produce and fresh meat, but not supplant a shopper's regular trip to the grocery store.
Target now sells some groceries at its South Portland store, including cereal, snacks, juices and some frozen food.
Livingston said PFresh stores offer what would be found in a small grocery store, with perishables such as potatoes, apples and carrots, dairy products and more frozen foods, but not a full produce section, bakery or deli.
The chain has Super Target stores that seek to replicate Walmart's Supercenters, with a full grocery and other services, such as an optical center, fast food outlets and bank branches.
Livingston said he wouldn't expect Target to put a Super Target in South Portland, because most of its renovations are aimed at creating more PFresh stores and Target would have to add substantial space to accommodate groceries and the other services.
Livingston said Target has found that expanded grocery options tend to keep shoppers in the stores longer – and they then spend more money.
He said the food prices might be a percentage point or two above what Walmart charges at its Supercenters, but customers who pay with most Target credit cards get 5 percent rebates, making the prices competitive.
He said neither Walmart nor a nearby Hannaford has much to fear from Target's expanded food section.
"Saleswise, these don't really impact the competition that much," Livingston said, because few customers go to Target for groceries only.
Most who do buy groceries get only a few items that they need right away, after going to Target for other reasons.
"It takes a while for people to wrap their heads around the fact that Target has groceries," he said.
Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: