Analysis: No Wegmans supermarkets on the horizon despite nearby expansion



(Click here for a look at past stories on Wegmans and click on image above for a look at future expansion)

Wegmans has no grocery stores on the horizon in Delaware, despite continued expansion in the region.

The privately owned grocery chain is slated to open a new store in Concordville, PA in November as well as a location in Lancaster that was nearly a decade in the works.

The Concordville location is near the intersection of Routes 1 and 202, less than a 30-minute drive from many neighborhoods in the Route 202 area in Delaware.

The privately owned grocery chain, headquartered near Rochester, NY, has been actively promoting the pending opening in Delaware and recently made a contribution to the Food Bank of Delaware.

“There are always many rumors about new sites, but we don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” said company spokesperson, Valerie Fox when asked about any word of expansion in the state.

Fox also pointed to a schedule of stores slated to open at Wegmans in coming years. (See image above).

Square footage and overall sales at Wegmans are typically much larger than at competing stores. That limits the number of possible sites. The reputation of the company and its ability to draw customers also allows it to cut good deals with developers building strip and lifestyle centers

Northern Delaware is a difficult market for a Wegmans site, due to land use restrictions and high prices for sites that might be available. That reputation is exploited by economic development agencies in the region. New Castle County has made some changes to deal with that reputation, but retail has not been in the mix.

Demographics may also play a role, with the Concordville site allowing the company to serve higher income customers in both states.

Whole Foods, a much larger company that operates smaller stores, has also stayed out of the Delaware. It is believed the company looked at a site in north Wilmington but did not want to deal with a drawn out zoning battle or neighborhood opposition.

One potential site for upscale grocers, the former DuPont Barley Mill Plaza area, ran into stiff opposition from neighbors. Stoltz, which bought the center from DuPont and planned to add a mixed-use development at the site, recently sold off Greenville, DE properties other than Barley Mill.The Barley Mill site is south of the upscale Greenville area.

A supermarket is also on the wish list for the newly opened Christiana Fashion Center near the mall of the same name.

With many expansion opportunities elsewhere, companies like Wegmans also tend to shy away from not in my backyard battles.

Wegmans Food Markets is an 87-store supermarket chain with stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Wegmans has been named one of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ by Fortune magazine for 18 consecutive years, ranking No. 7 this year.

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