The grocery market in the United States is one of the biggest in the world, but as 2024 looms, retailers will be keeping a close eye on consumer sentiment, following recent indications that many are feeling the pinch.
According to US Census Bureau data for October 2023, grocery store sales were up 2.9% on the same period last year, with overall food and beverage store sales rising by 2.8%. Overall, retail and foodservice sales were down 0.1% on the previous month, and up 2.5% on the same month the previous year.
As Jack Kleinhenz, National Retail Federation (NRF) chief economist, commented in November, while the "staying power" of the US consumer has been the story of 2023, "financial conditions have tightened appreciably in recent months, curbing the purchasing power fueled by job and wage gains. Nonetheless, continued consumer resilience is still expected for the holiday season.”
Signs that things may be getting tougher for US shoppers were indicted by the bumper sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year – on Black Friday, shoppers spent 7.5% more than the previous year ($9.8 billion), while Cyber Monday saw a record $12.4 billion (€11.3 billion) being spent online, a 9.6% increase, according to Adobe Analytics.
Food prices, too, remain high – the consumer price index on food-at-home (grocery store or supermarket food purchases) increased by 0.3 percentage points between September 2023 and October 2023, and were up 2.1% on October 2023, USDA data showed.
Looking ahead to next year, 'food prices are expected to continue to decelerate but not decline in 2024,' the USDA added. 'In 2024, all food prices are predicted to increase 2.9% with a prediction interval of -0.9% to 6.8%.'
Here's an overview of the top ten supermarket retail chains in the United States, according to their most recently-available full-year turnover.
Turnover: $611.3 billion (2022)*
The group operates more than 10,500 stores globally, while in the US its banners include Walmart, Walmart Supercenter, and Sam's Club. Its US sales stood at around $393 billion in 2021. Walmart recently streamlined its corporate structure, to ensure it remains competitive in a challenging marketplace.
Turnover: $162.6 billion (estimated – 2022)
Costco is a membership-based warehouse club that operates some 838 stores worldwide, of which 578 are based in the United States.
The group reported global revenue of $222.7 billion (€202.7 billion) last year, up from $192 billion the previous year. In its annual report, Costco said that 27% of its net sales were generated from its international operations (including Canada), meaning that the remainder, for the US, equates to approximately $162.6 billion. The retailer recently noted that a drop-off in discretionary spending was impacting its performance.
Turnover: $148.3 billion (2022)
Reporting sales of $148.3 billion (€135 billion) last year, Kroger operates more than 2.800 stores under a variety of banners, including Kroger, Ralphs, and Fred Meyer. The company is also one of the largest employers in the United States, with over 500,000 employees.
Turnover: $109 billion (2022)
Although Target is primarily known for its department store operations, the company also operates comprehensive grocery operations, with a total of 1.,948 stores across the US as of 2021.
According to the company, 75% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Target store.
Turnover: $77.6 billion (2022)
Based in Boise, Idaho, Albertsons reported turnover of $77.6 billion (€70.6 billion) in 2022, a year in which same-store sales rose by 6.9%. Albertsons operates more than 2,200 stores across the United States under various banners such as Safeway, Vons, and Jewel-Osco.
6. Ahold Delhaize
Turnover: $57.9 billion (2022)
Based in the Netherlands, Ahold Delhaize is the parent company of several retail chains in the United States, including Food Lion, Giant Food, and Stop & Shop, which collectively operate over 2,000 stores.
Ahold Delhaize reported sales of €87 billion in 2022, of which the United States accounted for €55.2 billion ($57.96 billion), seeing comparable sales up 6.8% year-on-year. The group recently trimmed its earnings guidance for the year on the back of margin weakness in its US business.
Turnover: $54.5 billion (2022)
Publix is a Florida-based supermarket chain that operates more than 1,200 stores across the southeastern United States, specifically Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
The group, which was founded in 1930, reported turnover of $54.5 billion (€50.1 billion) in its 2022 financial year, a 13.6% increase on the previous year, it said.
Turnover: $38.9 billion (2022)
H-E-B is a Texas-based supermarket chain that operates more than 400 stores. Based in San Antonio, the group employs some 145,000 people. According to Forbes, H-E-B reported a turnover of $38.9 billion (€35.4 billion) in its most recent fiscal year.
Turnover: $37 billion (estimated – 2021)
Discounter Aldi has had a presence in the United States since 1976, and reported an estimated turnover of $37 billion (€33.67 billion) in 2021, according to Statista. The Batavia, Illinois-based firm boasts more than 2,000 stores across 36 states.
In August 2023, Aldi announced plans to buy the Winn-Dixie and Harveys Supermarket store estates from Southeastern Grocers, a move that will add around 400 stores to its portfolio in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi. It plans to open 20 stores in the area by the end of the year, part of a nationwide drive to open 120 locations across the US.
Turnover: $30.15 billion (estimated - 2022)
The group operates more than 12,600 stores across the country.