Axios Raleigh

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April 23, 2024

✌️ It's Tuesday in the Triangle.

🌞 Weather: Sunny with a high around 72°.

πŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Raleigh member Barden Culbreth!

Today's Smart Brevityℒ️ count is 940 words β€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Walmart and Harris Teeter are still Triangle favorites

Data: Chain Store Guide; Note: Stores under the same brand name have been combined, e.g. Walmart and Walmart Supercenter; Chart: Axios Visuals

Walmart and Harris Teeter remain the most popular grocery stores in the Raleigh metro area β€”Β but Food Lion, Costco and Publix all gained market share during the last year, according to sales data.

Why it matters: Grocery store operators have invested heavily in the Triangle in recent years, hoping to capture market share in a fast-growing, relatively high-income region that's full of transplants with less loyalty to North Carolina brands.

Between the lines: Grocers like Publix, Wegmans and Aldi have all opened locations in the Triangle in recent years.

  • Triangle residents spent $8.67 billion on groceries in 2023, up 10.3% from 2022, according to Chain Store Guide, a firm that tracks the retail and food industries.

Zoom out: Inflation is changing how many Americans shop for groceries, with more people buying store-brand items and shopping at discount stores, the Associated Press reported earlier this year.

By the numbers: In the Raleigh area, Walmart and Harris Teeter were still atop the grocery store leaderboard in 2023, with 21.1% and 17.8% of the market share respectively, Chain Store Guide data show.

  • Yes, but: That's a drop from Walmart's 22% market share and Harris Teeter's 19.7% in 2022.

In the Durham metro, Harris Teeter commanded 24.8% of the market in 2023, followed by Walmart with 20.3% and Food Lion with 13.7%.

What's your go-to grocery store and why? Hit reply and tell us!

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2. VinFast struggles to sell the cars it's made

VinFast's VF8 electric vehicles bound for shipment at a port in Haiphong, Vietnam. Photo: Linh Pham/Bloomberg via Getty Images

VinFast, the Vietnamese electric vehicle maker building a factory in Chatham County, is struggling to sell its cars in Vietnam and beyond.

Why it matters: VinFast has pledged to become North Carolina's first major automobile manufacturer, potentially adding 7,500 jobs in Chatham County. Selling its cars is vital to reaching its goals.

  • State and local governments have pledged more than $1.2 billion in incentives if VinFast meets hiring and investment goals.

Driving the news: The investigative report comes as construction on VinFast's North Carolina plant slowed due to permitting issues β€” though the car company has since filed the necessary permits to continue construction, per the News & Observer.

What the investigation found: VinFast, a newcomer to the EV market, is struggling to make an impact with consumers, Hunterbrook reported.

  • More than 70% of the 35,000 vehicles it delivered last year were to companies owned by VinFast's CEO Pham Nhat Vuong, according to SEC filings first reported by Reuters earlier this month.
  • Those sales accounted for more than 90% of VinFast's total sales revenues, and satellite imagery showed many were stored in fields for months.
  • VinFast has shipped 3,118 cars to the U.S. so far β€” with only 265 having sold as of December, according to EV registration data.

Yes, but: VinFast has recently signed leases with dealerships in the U.S. (including in the Triangle), started offering discount leases and told investors last week it still forecasts delivering 100,000 EVs this year.

Read the investigation from Hunterbrook ... Share this story

3. The Tea: Legal hemp poses new smell test issue for police

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

πŸ‘ƒ For decades, law enforcement in North Carolina has used the smell of marijuana as a probable cause to search someone's vehicle. But now that hemp is legal, that use has been thrown into question. (The Assembly πŸ”’)

πŸ›£οΈ Starting next month, the city of Raleigh will begin widening Blue Ridge Road between Rex Hospital and Crabtree Valley Mall. (News & Observer πŸ”’)

πŸ—³οΈ A Meredith College poll found former President Trump leads President Biden 41% to 39% among registered voters in North Carolina. Third-party candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. received 9% support in the poll. (WRAL)

  • The poll also found N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein leads N.C. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson 45% to 36%.

A 13-year-old girl was found fatally shot in a Raleigh apartment complex. (WRAL)

🎀 The Triangle's music community remembers Kevin "Rowdy" Rowsey II, an influential member of the area's hip-hop scene, who died of a heart attack at 32. (INDY Week)

πŸ€ Michael Jordan's family has decided not to continue with plans for a downtown Wilmington museum focused on the sports star and his relatives. (WilmingtonBiz)

4. πŸ’ Canes win a thriller in Game 2

The Carolina Hurricanes came back from a three-goal deficit to win Game 2. Photo: Cato Cataldo/NHLI via Getty Images

The Carolina Hurricanes had a thrilling comeback win in the third period to beat the New York Islanders 5-3 in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Monday night.

Why it matters: The Canes were down 3-0 β€” despite outshooting the Islanders β€” but the team's decisive victory gives them a two-game lead up to New York.

By the numbers: Wins like this don't come often.

  • It was the first time the Hurricanes had come back from three goals down in the playoffs since Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers.
  • The New York Islanders had never lost a playoff game when leading 3-0.

Between the lines: PNC Arena nearly exploded when Jordan Martinook scored the go-ahead goal with just a little more than two minutes left in what became a chippy game full of fights.

What's next: The Canes play in New York on Thursday at 7:30pm.

5. A train station upgrade

The Piedmont train arriving at the Durham Station. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Amtrak has wrapped up $1.5 million in renovations at the Durham Station, including a range of upgrades to improve the overall passenger experience and make it more accessible for those with disabilities, according to the rail operator.

What to expect: New features at the 601 W. Main St. station include new doors and signage, an automated ingress and egress system, bathroom updates, a new fire alarm system and other accessibility upgrades.

Between the lines: The Amtrak Carolinian and Piedmont trains, which make stops at Durham, provide daily service between Raleigh and Charlotte, with the Carolinian continuing service to New York.

🧳 Zachery is reading about why carry-on luggage has become such a miserable experience for flyers.

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This newsletter was edited by Katie Peralta Soloff and copy edited by Lucia Maher.