Albertsons adjusts prices to fight supercenters

Albertsons supermarkets announced plans this week to lower prices on thousands of goods at its California stores. The move, according to the Los Angeles Times, is meant to counter consumers’ shift toward chain discount retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, which have aggressively expanded their grocery offerings in recent years, as consumers become more price conscious.

The Food Marketing institute said 56 percent of consumers in a 2009 survey named traditional grocers as their primary store. That’s down from 60 percent just last year and 67 percent in 2005. From 2005 to 2009, supercenters increased their share of that measure from 31 to 39 percent. That shift coincides with an uptick in the sale of private label products, and consumers now name price as the top reason for choosing where they shop, the institute said.

To regain share, Albertsons has joined other grocery chains, like California’s Vons and Ralphs, in putting new emphasis on low prices.

At Albertsons, those lower prices will come in the form of “day-in and day out pricing,” spokeswoman Stephanie Martin told the Times.

“We need to be more competitive in our everyday prices, according to shoppers,” Martin said.

That plan could trickle up the supply chain, leaving grocers’ suppliers – including beverage companies and distributors – struggling to raise prices to compensate for increased costs.