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June 24, 2021

Walmart still tops grocery sales, but Safeway moves up

File Photo
The Warrenton Walmart, which rang up an average of grocery sales of almost $99,000 per day, remains atop the Fauquier market.
Unprecedented. That’s the only word that comes to mind when describing the last 12 months.
— Food World Publisher Jeff Metzger
Not surprisingly, Fauquier County grocery sales rose 7.45 percent over the last year, with people spending more time at home and restaurants closed or operating with restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly-released market study.

Twenty-two stores in the county rang up a total grocery sales of $176.47 million in the 12 months that ended March 31, Maryland-based Food World magazine reported in its June edition.

Grocery sales in Fauquier increased by $12.24 million year-over-year, according to Food World’s 42nd annual Mid-Atlantic market study.

“Unprecedented. That’s the only word that comes to mind when describing the last 12 months,” Publisher Jeff Metzger wrote in his analysis. “Reacting to the worst pandemic in more than a century, food retailers (wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers, too) showed tremendous courage and resilience as they tried to keep their shelves filled and their associates and customers safe.”

Stores faced major expenditures to comply with health protocols.

But their sales increases far surpassed the overall food price increase of 3.5 percent in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

While the “big four” traditional supermarkets in Fauquier experienced sales growth, convenience stores and pharmacies had modest or flat increases in grocery sales.

The Walmart in Warrenton retained its position atop the local grocery market for the sixth consecutive year. Walmart grocery sales totaled $36.1 million in the study period, for a 20.4 percent market share.

Its grocery sales rose $2.2 million or 6.4 percent.

But, the other big retailers — Giant, Safeway and Harris Teeter — all posted double-digit percentage increases and closed on Walmart in market share.

Giant Food remained solidly in second place.

Safeway — in the market longer than any competitor — produced a 25.7-percent year-over-year sales increase at its Warrenton store and moved ahead of Harris Teeter to fourth place in the local rankings.

Food World bases market share on sales of “grocery-related items” at any retailer that sells them. Before the most recent study period, convenience stores and pharmacies steadily had eaten into traditional grocers’ market shares.

Those who leave or come to Fauquier for work also affect grocery sales in the market. Thousands of Fauquier residents, for example, shop at the Wegmans near Gainesville and clubs such as Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s outside the county.

The two Wegmans stores in neighboring Prince William county produced total sales of $209.3 million.

But, total sales of $236.2 million at 11 international markets ranked first in Prince William, one of Virginia’s most ethically-diverse jurisdictions.

Despite its efforts, Food World could not get accurate figures on Amazon’s rapidly-rising grocery sales, Mr. Metzger wrote.

The most recent report on the Fauquier market:

1 — Walmart, 1 store, $36.1 million in sales, 20.41 percent market share

2 — Giant, 1 store, $32.69 million, 18.48 percent

3 — Food Lion, 3 stores, $23.1 million, 13.06 percent

4 — Safeway, 1 store, $19.06 million, 10.77 percent

5 — Harris Teeter, 1 store, $18.9 million, 10.68 percent

6 — Sheetz, 3 stores, $12.9 million, 7.29 percent

7 — Walgreens, 2 stores, $10.6 million, 5.99 percent

8 — 7-Eleven, 6 stores, $9.3 million, 5.26 percent

9 — CVS, 2 stores, $7.5 million, 4.24 percent

10 — Wawa, 1 store, $4.12 million, 2.33 percent

12 — Circle K, 1 store, $2.2 million, 1.24 percent

Total sales: $176.47 million
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