Kroger Takes Grocery Marketshare From Walmart, At Least In Cincinnati

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) may be a retail juggernaut, but it's not invulnerable. According to grocery sales data made public on Friday (April 12), Kroger (NYSE:KR) has actually gained market share at Walmart's expense since 2010 in the Cincinnati area, a local television station reported.

The data, which came from Chain Store Guide, show that Kroger's Cincinnati-area grocery marketshare in 2012 was 40.1 percent, up from 39.1 percent in 2010. Walmart's grocery share was 19.1 percent in 2012, down from 20.5 percent. Sam's Club's 2012 share was 6.5 percent, up from 6.2 in 2010. (Among other large grocery chains in the area, Meijer and Aldi were down while Costco (NASDAQ:COST) was up.)

That doesn't necessarily signal a trend—Cincinnati is Kroger's home market, so this may be a special case. But Walmart actually added a store in the area during the period, while losing grocery market share. (The number of Kroger stores was flat.) Walmart has been hit by complaints that its policy of running stores with as few associates as possible means shelves often remain unstocked or produce goes bad.

For its part, Kroger, the No. 2 U.S. retail chain, has a history of using its Cincinnati-area stores for experiments with both pricing and store format. For example, in February Kroger reduced prices on 3,500 items in Cincinnati stores but dropped its policy of doubling manufacturer coupons. That sounds troublingly reminiscent of JCPenney's (NYSE:JCP) catastrophic "Fair and Square" pricing policy, but Kroger has said the new policy is pulling in more households that shopping regularly in its stores.

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