Aldi, H-E-B set expansion pace for grocery stores in 2022

Discount chain led in new units opened, while the Texas grocer added the most square footage, a new report from JLL shows.
Aldi Brooklyn store-2022
Aldi opened 49 new stores in 2022, well ahead of No. 2 store-opener Grocery Outlet with 28 new locations, according to JLL. / Photo: Russell Redman

Aldi and H-E-B last year ranked as the fastest-growing grocers in the United States by new stores and added square footage, respectively, according to commercial real estate and property investment firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Supermarket expansion in 2022 maintained the momentum from 2021, with smaller-format operators opening more new units and larger-box grocers putting up more square footage, Chicago-based JLL said in its “Grocers Grow Formats Big and Small” report, released last week.

In terms of store openings, Aldi led the field with 49 new locations, almost doubling the count of runner-up Grocery Outlet at 28 new units and Publix Super Markets at 25 new units, JLL said. No other chains opened at least 20 stores in 2022. Next up were Sprouts Farmers Market with 16 new openings, H-E-B with 12 and Whole Foods Market with 11.

“Aldi is once again the leader of new store openings. In early 2022, the small-format discount grocer announced plans to open 150 new stores by the end of the year. However, only 49 locations actually opened, totaling nearly 804,000 square feet of new space,” JLL stated in the report. “The expansion focused predominantly on the Southeast and Gulf Coast, with 22 new locations across the region. The retailer also opened its 26th regional distribution center in Loxley, Ala., in July. This distribution center will support nearly 100 stores in the region.”

Batavia, Illinois-based Aldi U.S. opened roughly 100 stores in 2021 as well as in 2020. The chain entered its 37th state, Arizona, in 2020 after making its debut in its 36th state, North Dakota, the year before. In 2022, Aldi entered Louisiana, its 38th state, in February. The growth is part of a $5 billion, five-year expansion strategy unveiled in 2017 to expand Aldi from 1,700 to 2,500 stores nationwide by the end of 2022.

JLL 2022 fastest growing grocers report-chart

Source: From JLL "Grocers Grow Formats Big and Small" report.

“Aldi has continued its aggressive expansion in the past five years, cementing the grocer as the third-largest [supermarket operator] by store count, with a current total of 2,270 stores,” the report said.

Texas grocer H-E-B came in first by overall new space, adding 1.2 million square feet in 2022 and edging out the 1.175 million square feet added by Southeastern chain Publix, JLL reported. Following them were Aldi with 803,600 square feet of space, Grocery Outlet with 700,000 square feet, Whole Foods with 418,000 and Sprouts with 384,000 square feet.

JLL noted that San Antonio-based H-E-B bested all other grocers in foot traffic in Texas. “The retailer arrived in North Texas and the highly competitive Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2022, opening its first location in Frisco in addition to multiple land purchases in the area,” the report said. “The entry of H-E-B in the fast-growing Dallas-Fort Worth market demonstrates that the grocer continues to fight for Texas market share.”

Lakeland, Florida-based Publix wasn’t far behind in new square footage, expanding mainly in the southern region, including its home state of Florida.

“The retailer made its first entry into the Kentucky market with the opening of three new stores, with plans for a fourth in 2024,” JLL said. “This marks the eighth state of operation for the regional grocer.

Meanwhile, Emeryville, California-based Grocery Outlet “made good” on expansion plans unveiled early in 2022, opening 28 new stores, JLL commented. That included new locations in Maryland and Pennsylvania as the company stretches its footprint on the East Coast along with its mainline West Coast expansion.

Small-format grocery concepts remained in the spotlight during 2022, as Schnuck Markets, The Save Mart Cos. and Meijer all unveiled more-compact stores. JLL noted that Schnucks debuted a convenience brand dubbed Schnucks Express in Columbia, Missouri, while Save Mart opened a less-than -0,000-square-foot outlet under the Lucky Bayview banner in San Francisco.

HEB store-Magnolia Place-Magnolia TX

H-E-B has focused on bigger stores, such as this 112,000-square-foot location in Magnolia, Texas, opened on Nov. 2. / Photo courtesy of H-E-B

Supercenter operator Meijer, which has rolled out neighborhood supermarket formats in recent years, announced plans for a 40,000-square-foot store in Cleveland, due to open later this year, and small-format Meijer Grocery concept of 75,000- to 90,000-square-feet in metropolitan Detroit. The latter format opened late last week in Michigan’s Lake Orion and Macomb townships.

“Many shoppers appreciate the speed, convenience and accessibility of small-format stores. GreenWise Market, a small-format specialty chain operated by Publix, has experienced a greater year-over-year increase of monthly visits and sees longer visits compared to standard Publix stores in Florida, according to data from,” JLL explained in its report. “Small-format stores are also cheaper to build and require less land or space to buy or lease. This allows access to more markets than a larger-format store would. Furthermore, as retailers continue to invest heavily in e-commerce, these smaller stores can act as fulfillment centers for online orders.”

Conversely, H-E-B has shifted from its standard 50,000-square-foot box to stores of more than 100,000 square feet, accommodating a “more experiential store” with offerings such as tortillerias, BBQ restaurants and garden departments.

“Several grocers explored new formats in 2022. While going smaller was the choice for some, H-E-B has decided that bigger is better,” JLL said.

Within the next couple of years, the grocery store arena could be in for a shakeup with the pending mega-merger of The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos., the nation’s largest and second-largest supermarket operators, according to JLL. The $24.6 billion deal, expected by the companies to close in early 2024, would create a retailer with 4,996 stores in 48 states and the District of Columbia.

“To win approval for the deal from antitrust regulators, the two companies may need to sell existing stores, as was the case when Albertsons and Safeway merged in 2014,” JLL said in the report. “Kroger has proposed plans to appease regulators by selling or spinning off 100 to 375 stores. While the deal has many months—if not years—before an approval decision is made, the potential resulting company would create a new dominant player in the grocery landscape.”



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