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Aldi planing to add up to 100 new stores around country

Batavia-based Aldi, the U.S. subsidiary of Aldi Group of Germany, intends to open 80 to 100 new stores this year, company officials say, taking advantage of shoppers’ increased hunger for cut rate grocers.

Company spokeswoman Julie Ketay said Aldi currently has more than 1,135 stores in more than 30 states.

Across the country, limited-assortment grocers like Aldi are “very aggressively expanding,” said Jim Hertel, managing partner at the Illinois-based Willard Bishop food retailing consultancy.

“As prices continued to increase, people started shopping for food in more-varied locations,” added Phil Lempert, a retailing analyst.

St. Louis-based Save-A-Lot, with more than 1,200 stores in 39 states, including eight in Chicago, aims to double the size of the company within five years. That will bring the total to 2,400 stores.

Hertel said Aldi and Save-A-Lot offer about 80 percent of the items in conventional supermarkets.

They stock mostly private-label packaged foods, and meat and produce sections are smaller than supermarkets. Stores of 20,000 feet or less and a bag-it-yourself policy help trim overhead.

In an August survey, 54 percent of consumers said they were buying more store brands. That’s up from 46 percent in July 2009, according to SymphonyIRI, a Chicago-based market-research firm.

“Slightly more than one-third of consumers tell us they’re struggling to afford groceries. That has increased 11 [percentage] points over the past month,” said Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends.

Gannett News Service

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