Oct 18, 2022 - Business

The future of Chicago's grocery stores

Data: Chain Store Guides, LLC; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Chain Store Guides, LLC; Chart: Axios Visuals

The $24.6 billion merger between grocery giants Kroger (which owns Mariano's and some smaller chains) and Albertsons (Jewel) could have serious repercussions for the area.

Why it matters: The merger could affect about 250 local grocery stores if approved and shines a light on how unique our market is nationally.

By the numbers: Kroger, the nation's largest standalone supermarket chain, operates only 44 stores here; Albertsons has about 185 Jewel-Osco locations.

  • Walmart owns the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, but not here due to Chicago's strong pro-labor roots.

Between the lines: The fight over Walmart expanding here had much to do with how the conglomerate sets prices for manufacturers while keeping labor costs down with a track record of questionable tactics.

What they're saying: "The merger secures union jobs, and we will continue to work with local unions across America to serve our communities," Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen said in a press release.

  • "Kroger plans to invest in lowering prices for customers and expects to reinvest approximately half a billion dollars of cost savings from synergies to reduce prices for customers."

Yes, but: These "synergies" could also force layoffs and closings of local stores. Jewel and Mariano's operate competing stores in Northalsted, the South Loop and Naperville, among other areas.

  • If Kroger swallows Jewel, some fear the latter's name could fade into warm fuzzy history like Dominick's and Butera.

Context: Albertsons bought Jewel in 1999. Dominick's closed for good in 2013, with members of the family creating Mariano's. Kroger then bought Mariano's in 2015.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: Take a new look at an old friend — because it may not be there for long. I love Chicago grocery stores. My first real job was at Dominick's. But the days of our favorite grocery stores may be numbered.


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