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In midst of major expansion, Aldi opens Lakeland store

The discount grocer looks to add about 20 stores in Florida in 2023 after it opened or remodeled 17 in 2022.


  • By Louis Llovio
  • | 9:30 a.m. March 7, 2023
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Aldi, the discount grocery chain, looks to add about 20 stores in Florida in 2023.
Aldi, the discount grocery chain, looks to add about 20 stores in Florida in 2023.
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  • Tampa Bay-Lakeland
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Discount grocer Aldi is opening a new store in Lakeland on March 9, one of about 20 the chain is expected to open this year in Florida.

The new location will be at 4532 S. Florida Ave. just off Polk Parkway.

This Lakeland store is part of a major expansion across the state for the German supermarket chain. In addition to the 20 it is opening this year, it opened or remodeled 17 stores last year. 

It currently has 205 stores in the state.

Matt Thorn, divisional vice president, says “there is no limit to our growth potential and we’re expanding because shoppers want Aldi stores in their communities.

“When it comes to choosing new store locations, we carefully consider several factors but above all else, we look for convenient locations for our customers that can support a high traffic volume daily.”

The new store will not differ much from the utilitarian spirit of its others around the state, country and world.

The chain opened its first discount grocery store in 1961 in Germany and its first U.S. store in Iowa in 1976. Its U.S. footprint today includes about 2,284 stores in the 39 states. (Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets, by comparison, has 1,329 stores is seven states.)

But the majority of Aldi’s U.S. growth has come in the past decade when it’s opened about 1,000 stores.

Aldi is known for keeping its prices extremely low by cutting back on frills and keeping stores small and simple — you won’t find a wine bar here. The company says its average store is about 12,000 square feet, far smaller than most chains. According to The Food Industry Association, the average grocery store in the U.S. grew to 51,507 square feet in 2021.

Other than store size, customers going to some Aldi locations have to deposit a quarter, which they get back, to unlock a shopping cart to cut down on the number of employees needed to operate a store. And the chain avoids the cost of single-use bags by requiring customers to bring their own reusable bags.

As for what’s on the shelves, the company says 90% of its products are private label.

The approach seems to be working. Dunnhumb, the national retail research firm, has ranked the chain No. 1 based on price for the past six years.

The new Lakeland store opens at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

 

author

Louis Llovio

Louis Llovio is the commercial real estate editor at the Business Observer. Before going to work at the Observer, the longtime business writer worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Maryland Daily Record and for the Baltimore Sun Media Group. He lives in Tampa.

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