Like many industries, the grocery sector has faced many challenges and obstacles recently, but grocery sales have remained strong this year. Foot traffic has recovered nationwide in various chains despite drops from March to May and many people adopting grocery delivery. In New Jersey, existing chains are making adaptations while new competitors are launching stores. Here are the top grocery stores in 2020 in New Jersey and the trends they face going into next year.
The New Jersey-based chain with 139 stores in the state has been a leader in NJ supermarkets for decades. ShopRite is staying on top of technology trends with apps for grocery delivery, mobile item scanning, deli ordering, and pharmacy, with strong logistics for online ordering and pickup. Wakefern, its distribution and merchandising arm, has experimented with automated systems for micro-fulfilment to carry out online orders quickly and at lower costs.
The health-food supermarket brand is incredibly beloved among shoppers, landing in the top 10 of Food and Wine’s best supermarkets in the US, and 5 of its North Jersey locations are in the top 10 highest ranked on Yelp in the region. A new location opened in October in Freehold, building onto Trader Joe’s to 18 locations in New Jersey.
Upscale grocer Whole Foods has grown in New Jersey in recent years, opening over 20 locations and emphasizing home delivery recently with the help of its parent company Amazon and their Amazon Fresh service. The first Whole Foods in Passaic County opened in September, offering unique features like a burger bar with eight craft beers available on tap.
Acme, with 73 locations including some absorbed from A&P supermarkets several years ago, is still one of the leading chains in the state, but several locations have closed recently, such as a major location in Weehawken that shut its doors along with 3 others in New Jersey and New York last fall. The company committed to aggressively reinvesting in its existing stores.
The Germany-based supermarket company has expanded into the US in the past several years, focusing on efficiency to pass savings on to customers, with low prices on staples, smaller location sizes oriented around locating common items in the same places, and other policies like bring-your-own-bag. With at least 30 stores already, a new location was announced to be coming to Totowa soon.
Another originally-German supermarket brand like Aldi, Lidl recently started expanding into the US, attracting a lot of attention with low prices and their store-branded goods. Lidl is opening 40 new stores on the East Coast including 10 in New Jersey over the next year, and curious customers are willing to try a new grocery option. The rival Aldi and Lidl opened in direct competition in Lacey Township last year.
Upcoming and Specialty Stores
Stew Leonard’s, known as ‘the Disneyland of dairy stores’, drew 10,000 people for its Paramus opening last September. Wegmans has only 9 stores in New Jersey but is ranked second on Food and Wine’s list of top supermarkets nationwide and twice on the top 25 in North Jersey. Both discount grocery stores like Aldi and Lidl and stores concentrating on organic, health-oriented products are growing in popularity, showing the diversity of the industry in the states. Supermarkets are shifting focus rapidly in the wake of the pandemic. Some customers make visits less frequently and are less likely to visit multiple stores to find what they are looking for. Stores are investing heavily in grocery delivery through Instacart and individual store-run grocery mobile apps to provide the best possible service to customers through physical pickup and online delivery channels.