CHICAGO — Chicago’s top chains face new waves of competition from price-oriented independents and upscale grocers making inroads in Chicagoland.

In statistics from July, the Gainesville, Ga.-based Shelby Report showed Jewel Food Stores-Osco (Supervalu), Melrose Park, had 196 stores in the Chicago market, and about 32% of all supermarket sales.

Central Grocers, a Joliet-based chain serving several independent retailers, accounted for 305 stores and about 16.8% of sales.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart’s store count was 60 stores, accounting for 12% of the market. Dominick’s (owned by Safeway) tally was 78 stores, with 8.6% of sales. Meijer had only 22 stores, but a 5.1% share of sales.

The Shelby Report showed Kroger had 38 stores and a 4.6% share of sales. Aldi operated 178 stores in the Chicago market, accounting for 4.2% of sales. Whole Foods had 17 stores and 3.2% of sales, while SuperTarget had 15 stores and 2.7% of sales. Spartan Stores recorded 16 stores and 1.7% of sales. Trader Joe’s had 18 stores and 1.7% of total sales.

Bill Bishop, chief architect of Brick Meets Click and chairman of Chicago-based Willard Bishop, said independents are a force in Chicago.

He said Pete’s Fresh Market, Oakbrook Terrace, possesses an excellent produce department with what Bishop called a semi-Hispanic orientation.

Walmart has continued to grow, Bishop said. One Neighborhood Market store in urban Chicago offers a full assortment of products, while Walmart Supercenters are appearing on the periphery of the city. One renovated Walmart opened in Lake Zurich on Route 12 within the last year, Bishop said.

The city’s second supercenter opened in January in the Chatham Market, according to the Walmart Chicago website. Walmart operates five stores in Chicago, the website says.

In November 2011, Chicago’s second Walmart Express store opened in Wrigleyville.

The growth by Walmart in Chicago is expected to continue. In June 2010, Walmart announced the “Chicago Community Investment Partnership,” a five-year plan to open several dozen stores, create 10,000 jobs and 2,000 unionized construction jobs, generate more than $500 million in sales and property taxes and develop charitable partnerships worth $20 million.


Other independents

Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, Addison, has supermarkets in Chicagoland that do a lot of farm-stand business, Bishop said.

The retailer, which now has six stores in Chicagoland, got its start as a fresh produce stand 50 years ago on Harlem Avenue in Elmwood Park, according to the company’s website.

Mariano’s is one of the newest entrants in the Chicago market.

Mariano’s, operated by Milwaukee-based Roundy’s, said in an early November news release that the chain now operates eight Mariano’s stores in the Chicago market.

Roundy’s officials said in the release that the chain is pleased with the performance of its Chicago area stores.

“With eight Mariano’s now open in the Chicago area, we are gaining significant traction, and continue to invest in the growth of that market,” Robert Mariano, Roundy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said in the release.

Bishop said competition from Mariano’s has been harder on Dominick’s.

“The guys running Mariano’s are the same people who used to run Dominick’s, so that’s not working well for Dominick’s,” Bishop said.

While Jewel is still a well-respected store, Bishop said consumers may hold the chain’s high-price image against it.

Heinen’s Fine Foods, a retailer from Cleveland, opened its first store outside of Ohio and its 18th store overall in Barrington, in August. The upscale retailer set up shop in the affluent Chicago suburb, where the median household income is $135,000.

“They do a really nice job with a quality produce offering, with some interesting variety and more upscale than average,” Bishop said.

Bishop said Trader Joe’s stores in Chicago are getting slowly and steadily better in their produce offerings, he said. Aldi stores continue to do well in Chicago, Bishop said.