Size of typical supermarket?

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WalgreensDude
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Size of typical supermarket?

Post by WalgreensDude » 19 Jul 2007 08:02

Hi,

Would anyone happen to know what the size of a typical supermarket like Safeway, Kroger, or Albertsons is? I'm doing a research project and just curious.

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Post by Groceteria » 19 Jul 2007 10:22

I'm assuming that you mean the average size over time, since this is a history forum.

Prior to the 1950s, under 10,000 square feet was the norm, sometimes way under. In the 1950s and 1960s, the range was generally 10,000 to 25,000 square feet. Since then, it's been growing tremendously, to the point where many new stores are 60,000 square feet or larger. But there are regional, chain, and site variations, with urban stores generally on the smaller side and suburban ones larger. A Safeway in the middle of San Francisco or Washington is generally going to be smaller than a Kroger in suburban Raleigh or Columbus.

rich
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Post by rich » 19 Jul 2007 14:05

During the 1950s, the typical suburban supermarket was 15-16,000 sf. Kroger, Safeway, A&P, Colonial, National, etc. stores fit that mold. Neighborhood & small town stores were sometimes smaller, but the vast majority of 50s stores fit in the same box. A few local chains built bigger stores: Fisher Foods in Cleveland was building 26K sf stores in larger shopping plazas during the mid-50s. Grand Union was routinely building 30K sf stores at the end of the 50s, as was Food fair but those were truly outliers.

Store sizes became much more varied in the 60s. A&P built stores as small as 13K sf during the late 60s, but the norm for them & Kroger was 19K sf by the end of the 60s. Ironically, many new Krogers in this era were replacements for stores they'd opened 10 years earlier that weren't much smaller. For some reason, they didn't remodel or enlarge existing stores in large numbers until the last decade or so. Winn-Dixie was building 18-19K sf stores well into the 70s, as was Publix. The typical Safeway marina in the 60s was 22K sf. As service departments became more common and chains that added those often had stores in the 30K sf range. Some chains like Jewel & National were able to put "super stores" in a 20-25K sf footprint for urban areas. Most chains in the South kept building stores that were straight out of the 50s until the well into the 70s, both in terms of size and configuration (no service departments). More variation was common elsewhere, esp. in the Midwest & Northeast.

During the 70s, "super stores" became more common as Kroger began building them in the early part of the decade and Safeway, a little later, although they lagged far behind many of their competitors. Store sizes of 30-35K sf became the norm. There were some exceptions: Publix & Winn-Dixie didn't approach this size until the 80s. Store sizes have inched up ever since the 80s, but there haven't been huge leaps that occurred in the 60s/70s. BTW, new stores in urban areas are often over 50K sf. The new and remodeled Giants near me in DC are 52K sf. There's a Safeway near the old downtown business district that's under construction and it will be of similar size.

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Post by krogerclerk » 22 Jul 2007 22:29

I was always struck by the similarity of the Kroger superstore prototype, which debuted in 1972 in suburban Cleveland, to a picture of the interior of a Fazio's from 1967. Also, the 1969 prototype A&P that debuted in the Cleveland area is oddly close to Fazio's and a Kroger superstore.

Kroger obviously picked up the design and moved it chainwide throughout the 1970's, while A&P chose to build innocuous stores rather than aggressively roll out this prototype. A&P's Family Mart food-drug combos that appeared in the southeast during the mid to late 70's were another example of A&P having a cutting edge design that wasn't given priority chainwide, again primarily constructing small generic designed stores. The superstore design spread rapidly for a chain the size of Kroger and caught many competitors in Kroger's core markets off guard while Kroger withdrew from Chicago were Jewel, National, and Dominick's already had "superstores" and slowly shrank in Northeast Ohio until finally closing remaining stores in 1984.

While Publix and Winn-Dixie tended to be late to superstores, building very few prior to the 1980's, rapid growth in Florida meant that few stores pre-dated the 1950's. Coupled with Food Fair/Pantry Pride and Grand Union having large stores for the 1950's and 60's, the average square footage of a Florida supermarket was generally among the highest in the US. Even today the Tampa-St. Petersburg market has one of the highest average square footage per supermarket in the US, yet Publix, Winn-Dixie or Kash-n-Karry/Sweetbay have few large stores by today's standards-Albertson's typically operates the largest in the region.

rich
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Post by rich » 22 Jul 2007 23:46

The first Kroger super store was in Barberton, a factory town/semi-surbub of Akron and not a suburb of Cleveland. A store in the Cleveland subube of Bedford came a little later, along with the enlarglement of a recently completed store in Willowick. I grew-up around Fazio stores from the late 60s, and I'm not sure there was much emulation by Kroger. Fazio entered the Akron area around 1970, but I don't think they had a store near Barberton until much later.

Fazio was one of the early users of the mansard roof (shingled in their case) that became ubiquitous in the late 60s and well into the 70s and they carried the shingled/mansard motif into the interiors of their stores esp. around delis and bakeries. They also had "wine cellar" sections, which were an innovation that other chains did not pick-up. The early Kroger super stores had known of these. They did have the short wind front windows that Fazio used and the super stores usually had produce on the far side from the entrance, but Fazio's predecessor chain, Fisher Foods already used this layout, as did many A&Ps. Most early supers in Cleveland put the produce in back, either perpendicular to the meat (which was usually the first department you entered) or next to it. Kroger used this layout even after other chains in the area dropped it.

Kroger did have some large pre-super store locations in NE Ohio. They had one on the far North side of Youngtown that was 30K sf and billed as the largest Kroger in Ohio. They had two stores in Cleveland area malls that were probably about 25K sf: Great Lakes Mall in Mentor (1961) and Richmond Mall in Richmond Heights (1966). The latter had a leased bakery department (a real departure for Kroger) which didn't last long. So, they had some experience running larger stores, although both of the Cleveland stores were less popular than their local chain competition (a although the Mentor Kroger did better than a nearby A&P, which was usually empty). Fazio was their main competition in Mentor with a mall outparcel store that dated to about 1967 or 68, which replaced a large Fisher Foods store in the mall.

In NE Ohio, A&P kept building centennials into the 70s. They were still relatively small and the one innovation was the addition of a small prepared foods area that sold rotisserie chicken. The stores were otherwise typical A&Ps. If the learned anything in Cleveland, they applied it elsewhere. Kroger exited Cleveland in the late 70s as a conventional chain, but did have stores in Akron-Canton, Warren-Youngstown, & Western PA, along with some experimental formats in Cleveland (Barney's warehouse stores and BiLo limited assortment stores) Those are what they closed in '84.

Kroger had something akin to superstore competition in virtually all the markets that they eventually exited in the 70s: Acme in Akron, Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, Fazio & the Stop & Shop co-op in Cleveland, and Schnucks in St. Louis. They also had some large store competition in Detroit, which they temporarily exited. They also were unable to capitalize on the decline of Cleveland's Pick-n-Pay chain in the early 70s (which was reversed later on). Although National had many problems in the 60s and neglected stores in some Kroger markets like Indianapolis, they did rebuild market share in Chicago and St. Louis with large stores. Kroger basically couldn't play catch-up fast enough in these places and they remained a weak perishables chain compared with the local competition in all of these markets. In contrast, Kroger competitors like Colonial/Albers, HG Hill, Seaway Foodtown, and Winn-Dixie were real laggards in building large stores and their competition was mixed in Texas, where Safeway was a significant factor. Kroger did much better in those places and is still strong in most of these markets.

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Post by lvkewlkid » 23 Jul 2007 00:59

I read somewhere that Smith's had many stores in the early 90s/late 80s that were over 60,000 sq feet to even topping 80,000 sq ft...

FoodEquity
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Re: Size of typical supermarket?

Post by FoodEquity » 28 Sep 2012 17:54

I am also doing research for which I'm looking for information on the growth of supermarket size over time. I'm especially interested in the years 1946-1994; in my ideal world there is a source that traces growth in the average square footage year by year. However, anything will help. Those of you who previously posted data on size: can you point me towards your data source, so I can find citations?

Thanks!

klkla
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Re: Size of typical supermarket?

Post by klkla » 28 Sep 2012 19:18

FoodEquity wrote:I am also doing research for which I'm looking for information on the growth of supermarket size over time. I'm especially interested in the years 1946-1994; in my ideal world there is a source that traces growth in the average square footage year by year. However, anything will help. Those of you who previously posted data on size: can you point me towards your data source, so I can find citations?

Thanks!
Most people are probably basing this on their experience. A good source for actual data would be the annual reports of the major chains over the years.This information is usually included.

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Brian Lutz
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Re: Size of typical supermarket?

Post by Brian Lutz » 08 Oct 2012 03:05

One data point I can add here: When the Downtown Bellevue Marina Safeway opened in 1963, it was hailed as being the largest Safeway in Western Washington at 24,000 square feet. The new Safeway store across the street that replaced it in 2008 was 55,000 square feet. You can find the news article I got this from here:

http://thesledgehammer.wordpress.com/20 ... e-safeway/
The Sledgehammer - Version 2.0 - Seattle Area Malls, Retail History, and other random things.

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