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    More Big Grocery Cos. Are Thinking Small

    Smaller footprints are easier to place, promote quick stop-in visits.

    NEW YORK – After years of being known for very large grocery stores, more chains are testing smaller models that are closer to the size of neighborhood markets, according to a Money Magazine report. This comes after the average grocery store size rose to more than 45,000 square feet in recent years.

    Part of this change has been spurred on by the success of chains such as Aldi and Trader Joe's, whose stores are generally less than 20,000 square feet. Walmart's Express and Neighborhood Market stores also showed that even the largest big-box chains can do well with smaller stores.

    Other recent small-store developments include:

    • Publix's planned prototype for a 20,000-square-foot store;
    • Three 7,500-square-foot Turkey Hill Market stores opened by The Kroger Co. last fall in the Columbus, Ohio area; and
    • Hy-Vee Inc.'s 14,000-square-foot Mainstreet concept, which debuted in Sioux City, Iowa, in April.

    The difference between a full-size Hy-Vee store and the Mainstreet concept is often the amount of choices in a category, according to Tim Stupka, assistant vice president of operations for Hy-Vee's northern district. "We have pretty much everything those stores have, but we don't have as many varieties."

    Such changes could potentially hurt the parent brand, as some chains are lauded for their large selection. However, companies have multiple reasons to try the smaller formats. These smaller stores can fit into more areas, including densely populated cities and neighborhoods. Additionally, the Millennial generation, a coveted market, is more interested in quick visits to stores rather than time-consuming trips, according to the news outlet.

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