Skip to main content

THE FRIDAY 5: Amazon Pivots to Smart Carts; Low-Price Retailers Dominate

Walmart’s retail media moves, Trader Joe’s viral mini tote also garnered clicks this week
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Aug 16, 2017: Grocery outlet bargain market.; Shutterstock ID 698669968
News of Grocery Outlet's entry into the state of Delaware was popular among Progressive Grocer readers this week.

Welcome to The Friday 5, Progressive Grocer’s weekly roundup of the top news and trends in the food retail industry. Each Friday, we’ll take a look at the stories that are most important to our readers and also keep tabs on the trends that are poised to impact grocers. 

1. Grocery Outlet Grows in Delaware

Grocery Outlet is on the move. The extreme-value retailer opened its first location in Delaware on April 4 in Rehoboth Beach, and also recently celebrated the grand opening of its first location in Ohio. Other new store openings scheduled for the month of April include locations in Dublin and Santa Clarita, Calif. 

Grocery Outlet has other growth opportunities in the pipeline as a result of its recent United Grocery Outlet acquisition. This deal gives the rapidly expanding retailer an entry point into the southeast region, with 40 stores across the six states of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia.

The company is in good financial shape going into the rest of 2024, with results for its fourth quarter ended Dec. 30 slightly ahead of company expectations. Sales rose 6.3% to $989.8 million, driven by a 2.7% increase in comparable-store sales. Comp-transaction growth of 7.5% was partly offset by a 4.5% decline in average basket. 

2. ALDI and Lidl Keep Customers Coming Back

Stories about ALDI and Lidl are perennial favorites here at PG, and news about each retailers’ foot traffic and value proposition proved no different. Each retailer has seen immense success in recent years thanks to low prices, private labels, unique merchandising strategies and loyal customer bases, and according to new research from, visits to both ALDI and Lidl have continued to grow year-over-year (YoY). Monthly visits to ALDI in February were up 28.5% YoY, while Lidl’s YoY foot traffic growth for the month was slightly lower at 8.6%.

Both ALDI and Lidl are in growth mode, and notes that the companies’ strategies are seemingly geared toward expanding outside each chain’s respective orbit. For example, Lidl has been opening stores in big cities along the East Coast, including New York City, while ALDI is taking a very different tact.

Indeed, ALDI recently shared incredibly ambitious growth plans as it expands its footprint across the United States. The grocer says it will open 800 new stores by the end of 2028, which will encompass both organic growth and store conversions following the recently announced successful completion of its Southeastern Grocers acquisition.

For its part, Lidl US CEO Joel Rampoldt recently told Progressive Grocer that he believes the limited-assortment discount grocer has "tremendous potential" to expand in the United States, and that the company is ready to unveil an experience more tailored to the U.S. consumer. 

Advertisement - article continues below
Amazon Forecasts Modest 4th-Quarter Growth Amazon Fresh
Amazon Fresh stores will no longer utilize the company's Just Walk Out technology, but instead employ smart Dash Carts for checkout.

3. Amazon Retools Grocery, Just Walk Out Strategy

Amazon has been hard at work retooling its grocery strategy over the past couple of years, and the retailer is ready to change its focus in an effort to obtain success with its Fresh business. The company says its next generation of Fresh stores will not utilize the company’s proprietary Just Walk Out technology, but will instead lean on its Dash Carts for seamless checkout.

Tony Hoggett, Amazon SVP of grocery stores, told news outlet The Information that the company’s new batch of Fresh stores will not employ Just Walk Out technology, and its existing Amazon Fresh locations will get a facelift and be updated to “version two” stores sans the technology. The retailer will instead employ Dash Carts, smart shopping carts with a scanner and screen that allow shoppers to check out as they shop. 

Amazon will reportedly still utilize Just Walk Out technology, which was first introduced in 2016, in a small number of Fresh stores in the U.K., as well as in some of its Amazon Go stores. Just Walk Out technology was poised to revolutionize grocery checkout, so time will tell whether the Dash Cart is a worthy replacement.

4. Walmart Turns Its Attention to Retail Media

Walmart was already in a unique position within retail media thanks to its proposed acquisition of television maker Vizio, but news of the retailer’s latest moves in the space garnered a bevy of clicks this week. Walmart Connect has several new initiatives in the works this year, ranging from more programmatic offerings to new self-serve capabilities for advertisers, all aimed at creating even more meaningful connections between its customers and the brands the retailer carries.

Beginning this month, Walmart Display is becoming primarily programmatic and auction based, which will offer advertising brands of all sizes greater access and control. Additionally, Walmart Connect is now offering offsite media to support brands that don’t sell with Walmart but offer complementary products and services that are relevant to its customers. Those businesses, to start, include automotive, entertainment, financial services, quick-service restaurants and travel.

5. Trader Joe’s Viral Mini Tote

PG readers love a good viral grocery moment, and the long-awaited return of Trader Joe’s mini tote made waves this week. Marketing execs Matt Sloan and Tara Miller talked about the clamor for the smaller-sized reusable shopping bags on the latest edition of the Inside Trader Joe’s podcast, joking that they are constantly getting asked about where, when and how to find the limited-time bags that sold for $2.99 and were at one point fetching hundreds of dollars on resale sites like eBay.

Those bags are pretty much all out for now, but the items will make a return around the end of summer, the hosts shared. Shoppers ready to make a dash to their local Trader Joe’s to get the second round of the mini tote bag can check back at the end of August or beginning of September. 

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds