(Aug. 27) LAKELAND, Fla. — PublixDirect, the online shopping arm of Florida-based retailer Publix Inc., is no more.

The service closed for good on Aug. 23. A note to customers on the Web site said the company “didn’t have enough volume to keep operating.”

PublixDirect was launched in Alpharetta, Ga., in early 2001 and by September of that year, the company had begun home deliv-eries from a newly constructed warehouse in Pompano Beach.

The initial plan had been to start delivery service in the metropolitan Atlanta area and even Orlando, but those plans were repeat-edly pushed back and never came into being.

“We regret that our online grocery shopping business did not meet our expectations,” Publix chief executive officer Charlie Jen-kins Jr. said in a news release. “Despite many loyal customers and dedicated associates, PublixDirect simply didn’t have enough volume to continue this service.”

While it is not known how many customers PublixDirect had at its closing, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the com-pany at one time had as many as 18,000 registered customers and was handling 7,000 deliveries per week.

About 440 employees will be effected by the move. Publix said it will help them find jobs, either within the company or through outplacement services.

The closing will cost the company $30 million in revenues during the third quarter of 2003 and is expected to lower its net earn-ings by $18 million in the three months ending Sept. 27.