What are the most popular grocery chains in Connecticut?

As Big Y World Class Market pounces on vacant Amazon Fresh storefronts in Westport and Brookfield, new data shows the Massachusetts chain is outclassing many competitors across Connecticut on one major criterion — repeat visits by regulars.

Big Y led Connecticut in December for the average frequency at which individual shoppers returned to stores during the month, according to Placer.ai data on 265 stores statewide reviewed by Hearst Connecticut Media. In 15 of 26 cities and towns where Big Y faces competition from other chains tracked by Placer.ai, Big Y led those markets for the frequency of repeat visitors.

Big Y is now capitalizing in Connecticut with a new store planned for Middletown as well as the Westport and Brookfield locations in the works. It is one of several chains that have been expanding in Connecticut by purchasing stores or opening new ones, to include ShopRiteWhole Foods MarketCaraluzzi’sFood Bazaar and Aldi.

While having closed stores in Bridgeport and Greenwich of late, Stop & Shop remains the dominant chain in Connecticut with more than 85 locations. For December, Placer.ai tracked some 3.25 million people visiting Stop & Shop locations in Connecticut, some doing so from neighboring towns in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island where they live. In the aggregate across all its Connecticut stores, Stop & Shop drew more than double the number the shoppers at the next two busiest chains in Connecticut in Big Y and ShopRite, which drew about 1.3 million people each.

While Stew Leonard’s stores in Norwalk and Danbury led Connecticut for shoppers in December, ShopRite’s Connecticut Avenue store in Norwalk was tops statewide for total visits, due to customers making more frequent trips there than those at the two Stew Leonard’s. Placer.ai keeps data on Stew Leonard’s Newington store behind a paywall, but a Stew Leonard’s spokesperson told CT Insider that foot traffic at the Newington store is in line the Danbury store.

Shoppers can be fickle and that applies as well to studies that attempt to gauge their loyalty. On the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index for the grocery industry based on surveys in 2022, Trader Joe’s garnered the top score with Whole Foods Market getting the biggest gain among chains with a footprint in the Northeast. On a quarterly grocery “fidelity” index published by the location-based ad company InMarket that gauges supermarkets’ success in drawing customers to stores, the Wakefern cooperative that includes ShopRite and Price Rite Marketplace got the highest score among Northeast chains, ranking fourth overall nationally.

Placer.ai provides monthly snapshots of foot traffic at larger retail venues nationally by aggregating the locations of mobile phones, for people who bring them inside without disabling location tracking. Placer.ai data is not available free for all venues,  it provides a census of many retail centers frequented by shoppers.

Big Y stores has three of the top four stores in Connecticut for frequency of visits by the same individuals, in Monroe, Ellington and Stafford which led the state on that front. Of the 31 Connecticut supermarkets to average at least two visits by individual shoppers in December, Caraluzzi’s Georgetown Market in Wilton was the only store to crack that group besides Big Y, ShopRite and Stop & Shop.

While Big Y’s Stafford store likely ranks high due to a relatively remote location, the Monroe and Ellington stores are in relative close proximity to competing options. And Big Y leads for shopper repeat visits in several highly competitive areas to include Torrington, where Big Y is tops among a half-dozen stores tracked by Placer.ai, and in Clinton, Groton, Killingly, Newtown, Rocky Hill and Stratford where it bests two or three competitors in each locale.

But the company does not lead every town for frequency of visits, with ShopRite and Stop & Shop topping it in Shelton and Manchester, and both Stop & Shop stores in Milford beating out Big Y for visit frequency.

The Westport foray marks the first in lower Fairfield County for Big Y, where competitors along the Post Road East will include Stop & Shop, Trader Joe’s, The Fresh Market and Balducci’s.

Original article found at CT Insider.


Grocers Grapple With Theft Issues as Year Begins

If theft and loss were among the big retail stories of 2023, this year is already shaping up to have asset protection top of mind among grocers.

On Jan. 4, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced felony charges in the case of stolen mPerks rewards from Meijer customers. A 22-year-old from Grand Haven, Mich., Nicholas Mui, was arrested for the theft and sale of shoppers’ account access information.

Nessel and her team contend that Mui got login credentials from a separate data breach and subsequently sold logins on the internet. Users used that account information to steal mPerks points for their own purchases. According to the AG’s office, Meijer’s infrastructure was not directly breached.

Meijer tipped off authorities to the potential crime following a series of customer complaints in spring 2023. The retailer’s corporate investigators worked with the Michigan State Policy Fraud group and the AG’s team to discover the culprit; in September, officers acting on an authorized search warrant seized more than $400,000 in cash and cryptocurrency.

A Meijer spokesperson told Progressive Grocer that that the identification and arrest of the suspect was a collaborative effort. In a written statement, the spokesperson declared, “We appreciate the efforts of the Michigan State Police and the Attorney General’s FORCE Team, in partnership with our Asset Protection team, to bring this individual to justice. This situation highlights the importance of changing passwords often and not using the same password for multiple platforms. We encourage any customer who believes they were a victim of this individual’s actions to contact Meijer customer care at 1-877-363-4537.”

Meijer took early action to deal with the effects of the alleged crime, reinstating the full balance of accrued points to affected customers. The incident was not without cost, as Nessel pointed out.

“This theft operation affected hundreds of Meijer customers and mPerks account holders, and cost the grocery chain over one million dollars,” added Nessel. “It is our belief we apprehended the main operative and driver of this sophisticated, wide-spread criminal enterprise, and I’m grateful for the partnership between my FORCE Team, the Michigan State Police, and Meijer,” she said.

In related news, credit card skimmers are also causing headaches for retailers around the country as 2024 unfolds. Recently, skimmers were found at self-checkout areas at Roche Bros. Supermarkets locations in the Boston area, including a Sudbury Farms in Needham, a Brothers Marketplace in Weston and two Roche Bros. stores in Wellesley and Natick.

This week, police in Germantown, Wis., announced that a skimming device was found at a Sendik’s store in that town near Milwaukee. Additionally, Giant Eagle confirmed that skimmers were discovered at a store in Powell, Ohio. After a thorough review, additional devices were found at four other Giant Eagle locations in Ohio.

In a news release, Giant Eagle clarified some of the security issues. “Because most customers either insert or tap their chipped cards, the vast majority of customers visiting these stores are not affected. Importantly, the only information at risk includes the payment card number and service codes,” a spokesperson wrote. Still, the grocer advised customers who patronized the stores to monitor their accounts.

Privately owned Meijer is based in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is No. 23 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America. PG also named the company one of its Top 10 Most Sustainable Grocers and Best Regional Grocery Chains in America. Mansfield, Mass.-based Roche Bros. operates 20 locations in the state. Established by the Balistreri family in 1926, Sendik’s operates 19 stores in the Milwaukee metro area, including Sendik’s Food Markets and convenience-oriented Fresh2 Go banners. Giant Eagle operates approximately 480 stores throughout western Pennsylvania, north central Ohio, northern West Virginia, Maryland and Indiana. The company is No. 40 on The PG 100.

Original article found at Progressive Grocer.

After decades of failure, Hartford leaders seek grocery store in one of CT’s worst food deserts

After several failed attempts, a new push to explore a city-owned grocery store aims to someday bring fresh produce to a food desert in Hartford.

“Getting a full-service grocery store in the North End has been a challenge for literally our whole lives,” councilman Josh Michtom said. “I think it’s a very common sense idea to at least study its feasibility and get some parameters around it.”