Published: Sep 11, 2012 05:50 PM
Modified: Sep 11, 2012 02:04 PM
CARY - Most Cary folks have never seen Walmarts version of a supermarket-only store, but they will soon. The retail giant plans to put two of its rare food-focused stores here.
The company has already publicized the Walmart Neighborhood Market planned for west Cary, which would be the first of its kind in North Carolina. Town records, meanwhile, show the companys interest in the Northwoods Shopping Center, a central Cary plaza where Walmart may replace a former Food Lion.
The Neighborhood Market would occupy a 40,000-square-foot grocery store thats been vacant for months, according to plans submitted to the town of Cary. The company apparently plans few structural changes to the existing building, as it has requested and received permission for a minor alteration.
Walmart has also filed for a building permit for the supermarket site, which is at the southwest corner of N.W. Maynard Road and North Harrison Avenue.
Walmart has not yet announced the second Cary supermarket or a timeline for its opening; Mayor Harold Weinbrecht made the potential plan public on his blog last month.
Weingarten Realty, which manages the shopping center, is in talks about the future of the supermarket, but leasing executive Jimmy Conder declined to detail the potential plans.
Once we get things finalized for the anchor space, the center will do pretty well, Conder said.
Currently, 10 of Northwoods 14 smaller spaces are leased, he said. Property records show the center is 26 years old.Same strategy
In Cary, Walmart is apparently interested in trying to succeed where other retailers failed. The market in west Cary, which is set to open next month, will replace a former Kroger store that was empty for years; the potential central Cary site has been vacant since the beginning of the year.
Moreover, the company is entering a business that has seen increasing competition over a decade.
Its clear that the average supermarket is shrinking, said Phil Lempert of Supermarket Guru, a food-industry analysis website.
Dollar stores, drug stores and large retailers have eaten away at supermarkets business, whittling down the traditional food sellers share of the market by 15 percent in a decade, he said.
So, why is a multinational corporation moving in on the vacated turf of an industry thats losing market share?
Walmart is not a stupid company. Theyre looking at where there are opportunities, Lempert said.
He believes that customers are leaving traditional supermarkets in search of lower prices and a larger produce section.
They have a high concentration on produce, a high concentration of fresh product, and because of Walmarts buying power, they can deliver on price as well, he said.
And Walmart may be moving into position here just ahead of a major shift in buying habits.
The first trigger for someone to look elsewhere is price, and were about to see that happen again because of all the drought conditions and how its affected our food supply, Lempert said.