Giant retains huge lead over rivals Chain holds 28.5% share of market, survey finds BTC

June 12, 1996|By Alec Matthew Klein | Alec Matthew Klein,SUN STAFF

Giant Food Inc., living up to its name, remains the area's 800-pound gorilla -- the largest supermarket chain in the Baltimore area -- vastly overshadowing its competition, according to an annual survey released yesterday by Food World, a Columbia-based regional trade publication.

With 42 area stores, Giant has more than 28.58 percent of the Baltimore market with more than $1 billion in annual sales, a slight drop over its share last year but nearly 20 percentage points ahead of its closest competitor, Metro/Basics, which controls 9.61 percent of the pie.

"To me, Giant's domination is witnessed by their spread: You're looking at a 19 [point] gap between [No.] 1 and [No.] 2, which to me is the largest spread on the East Coast," said Jeff Metzger, Food World's publisher.

Giant's hold on the area could have been even greater, Metzger said, but the Landover-based retailer's local expansion is limited by scarce locations for supermarkets and a slow-growing region.

That, however, didn't stop No. 2-ranked Metro from making considerable strides in the year covered by the survey, from April 1, 1995, to March 31, 1996. The chain added two stores, giving it 16 as it increased its market share $34.7 million, to $347 million, this year.

Supermarket sales rose about 3.5 percent over last year, totaling $3.61 billion for an area covering Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's counties, according to the survey.

Total sales, including such nontraditional food retailers as drugstore chains and convenience stores, increased about 3 percent to $4.75 billion.

Sales were essentially flat at supermarkets ranked No. 3 through No. 10 in the region. Super Fresh/A&P, Valu Food, Weis Markets and Klein's all saw their shares of the market dip slightly.

Stop Shop Save Food Markets recently acquired five urban supermarkets, growing to a 16-store chain with more than $100 million in annual sales.

And Safeway, which already operates 14 groceries in the region, is expected to build about five more stores in the next 12 to 18 months.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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