Retailers

Aldi 'Nerds' Win as Arizona Stores Debut at Long Last

Discounter opens its first two stores in greater Phoenix area
Aldi Goodyear exterior
Photographs by WGB Staff

Goodyear, Ariz., resident Jackie Smith said she has been waiting more than a year for Aldi to open the doors to its first stores in the Grand Canyon State. But Smith, who used to shop the German-based discounter in her previous hometown of St. Louis, is more than your average discount grocery shopper. She’s at Aldi Goodyear on opening day to take photos, which she will post to her TheAldiNerd.com Community on Facebook.

Aldi acknowledged plans to invade Arizona in 2017, and its pending arrival has been watched closely by its fans and by the trade. Hard discount as Aldi practices it, a pesky competitor nearly everywhere else in the U.S., represents something of a new wrinkle for the Sun Belt: According to Metro Market Studies data, the Phoenix market is dominated by conventional chain grocery such as Krogers Frys banner, Albertsons Cos. Safeway, and regional favorite Bashas. Walmart, Target and Phoenix-based natural food retailer Sprouts also compete there.

“[Aldi] first said [their opening] would be 2019, and I was so excited. Then this store was supposed to open in December, and I’m so happy it’s open now,” an ecstatic Smith told WGB.

Aldi Goodyear produce

In addition to the unit in Goodyear, Aldi also opened a store in Chandler, Ariz., on Nov. 5. The new stores are part of the fast-growing discounter’s aggressive expansion plans, which include at least two more Phoenix-area stores by the end of the year, officials say.

“In total this year, we expect to open nearly 100 new stores. We continue to outpace our competitors as we expand in markets we already serve, as well as in new ones, and are on track to become the third-largest U.S. grocer by store count by the end of 2022,” Aldi USA CEO Jason Hart told WGB in July.

At the Goodyear store, WGB observed Aldi rolling out the red carpet for shoppers, from helping shoppers find parking spots to supplying customers with shopping carts to offering empty product cases in which to carry out their purchases. The store, which was scheduled to open at 9 a.m., let customers in early to avoid lines of eager shoppers outside the door.

Many of the opening day shoppers in Goodyear were no strangers to Aldi. WGB observed two men shopping and swapping stories about their Aldi experiences in the Midwest, where Aldi established itself more than 40 years ago. A woman who said she was familiar with Aldi from a trip to Germany, in the meantime, enthusiastically scanned the in-store flyer.

Yet another way that Aldi successfully builds shopper excitement, the in-store flyer is filled with deals like a dozen Grade AA eggs for 79 cents and a 24-ounce package of tomatoes on the vine for $1.29. The grocer also teases coming attractions by publishing a sneak peak section of its coming sales in an attempt to generate repeat visits. This promises Goodyear shoppers can look forward to in-and-out specials such as a buffet server with warming tray for $29.99, as well as salt and pepper grinders for $12.99, and Crofton Holiday Stemless Wine Glasses for $4.99 each.

Outside shoppers waited in quickly moving lines while store associates cleaned carts and monitored the number of people inside to maintain COVID safety protocols. Inside, carts were filled—and frequently overflowing—with product by eager shoppers.

Christine Lavelle works in education and networking for Winsight in the company's Mesa, Ariz., offices. 

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