GroceryStores

Giant Co. has widened its lead as the biggest grocery chain in Lancaster County while independent operators have continued to lose ground, a new study shows.

Industry publication Food Trade News reported Monday that Carlisle-based Giant captured 27.2% of the $1.57 billion spent in Lancaster County for groceries during the year ended March 31.

Giant’s 12 stores here generated $422.8 million in revenue for the fiscal year, up 27.0% from the prior year, as the company acquired the sole Ferguson & Hassler location and both former Musser’s Markets locations here.

The surge gave Giant an ample lead of 11 percentage points over runnerup Weis Markets, which had a market share of 15.8%. Giant’s edge over Weis in fiscal 2020 was nearly double its fiscal 2019 advantage of 6 percentage points.

A spokeswoman for Giant declined to comment on the report.

Food Trade News publisher Jeff Metzger said Giant did more than boost its Lancaster County revenue through the acquisitions. Giant’s existing stores also performed better than its rivals’ stores during the initial 11 months of the fiscal year as well as during the final chaotic month, March, he said.

March is when the COVID-19 outbreak triggered panic buying at virtually every supermarket and prompted many customers to switch to online ordering of groceries for home delivery, he said, where Giant had already established its Giant Direct division. Giant Direct needed to add scores of workers during the pandemic to meet the spike in demand.

Online revenue is counted in the Food Trade News report.

At the same time, independent grocery stores saw their presence shrink farther during the fiscal year, to a market share of 12.6%. That compared to 16.6% the prior year and 22.2% in fiscal 2018 (before Darrenkamp’s closed its three county stores and sold the Willow Street location to Giant).

The biggest cluster of independent stores here are those supplied by C&S Wholesale. A spokeswoman for the largest local grocery operator it supplies, Stauffers of Kissel Hill, declined to comment on the new market study.

Among the other supermarket companies operating here, Wegmans continued to have the busiest single store here. The location in The Crossings at Conestoga Creek generated $59.3 million in annual revenue, up 3.3% from the prior year.

Shady Maple Farm Market in East Earl has the largest individual store footprint in the county; its annual revenue is about $35 million, Food Trade News estimated, though Shady Maple only operates six days a week. Wegmans was open round-the-clock prior to the pandemic.

(Food Trade News does not include Shady Maple in its report because the publication only looks at companies that have more than one location overall.)  

Whole Foods, another high-profile chain that’s establishing itself here with a single store, saw that store generate $34.4 million in revenue, up 3.9%.

At the other end of the supermarket spectrum are no-frills discounters, a segment led by Aldi, which saw its revenue soar 38.3% to $29.6 million. Fueling the increase was a new store off Rohrerstown Road in East Hempfield Township and the replacement of its Manheim Township store with a Fruitville Pike location that doubled its size.