California’s Grocery Foot Traffic Keeps Growing

Placer.ai analyzes store visits in Golden State
Emily Crowe
Multimedia Editor
ecrowe
California groceries
Grocers in California have seen foot traffic above the national average so far this year.

When it comes to grocery store visits so far this year, California has consistently outperformed the national average. In its new report titled “California Grocers Here We Come,” Placer.ai takes a closer look at how food retailers including Safeway, Ralphs, Trader Joe’s, Vons and others measure up in the Golden State.

As a whole, Placer.ai found that California is a high-value grocery market thanks to robust visitation, and that in June, visits to its grocery stores were up 3.8% year-over-year, which was higher than the 1.9% climb nationwide. The state also has several distinctive geographic divisions, meaning different brands saw more foot traffic than others in each region.

[Read more: "What Grocery Foot Traffic Tells Us About 2023 So Far"]

Safeway came out as the top grocer in California with 11% of the visit share, and its locations are concentrated in the northern area of the state. Ralphs, meanwhile, mainly serves Southern California and saw 9% of the state’s grocery visits.

In the third spot is Trader Joe’s, which took 7% of the grocery visit share and has locations statewide. Von’s had 7% of the share, with Stater Bros., Food 4 Less, Smart & Final and Albertsons following, respectively.

“Competition for grocery visits in California is fierce with no one brand claiming a significantly larger visit share than the others,” the report states. “Still, with California’s large population, garnering even a small share of total grocery visits amounts to hefty foot traffic.”

The Golden State has seen its share of value visits this year in the face of inflation, with Trader Joe’s and Food 4 Less locations seeing an increase in foot traffic. In fact, June’s year-over-year visit growth at Food 4 Less outperformed the top three chains in the state for the majority of the first half of the year.

Placer.ai further found that Trader Joe’s drove visits from more affluent consumers, while Food 4 Less benefited from visits made by those from large households.

“This suggests that Trader Joe’s has benefitted from higher-income consumers that have either been more resilient to the effects of inflation or traded down from premium grocers, while Food 4 Less has capitalized on larger households whose demand for food-at-home means they simply can’t cut back on grocery trips,” the report found.

Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons operates more than 2,200 retail stores in 34 states under 24 well-known banners, among them Albertsons, Safeway and Vons. The company is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of top food and consumables retailers in North America. Compton, Calif.-based Ralphs employs more than 18,000 associates at 184 supermarkets across Southern California. Its parent company, Cincinnati-based Kroger, is No. 4 on The PG 100. With more than 500 stores in 40-plus states, Trader Joe’s is No. 27 on The PG 100 and San Bernardino, Calif.-based Stater Bros. is No. 54. 

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