Virginia Beach, VA
Hundreds of shoppers were waiting in a line that circled the parking lot early Thursday morning in Virginia Beach, Va., when Lidl US opened the doors and let them in.
As they filled their carts with 89-cent pineapples, 83-cent eggs and $19.99 kettle grills they may also have been witness to a small revolution in U.S. food retailing.
Lidl, which in addition to the Virginia Beach store on Thursday opened in nine other U.S. cities on the Mid-Atlantic coast for the first time, and has announced plans to open at least 100 stores in the next 12 months, debuted a bright, large hard-discount store that is arguably the first such model designed for the modern American shopper, and its influence is likely to be felt across the food retailing landscape, bringing new pressure to an industry already struggling with overcapacity, slackening consumer demand, food price deflation and a shopper base that expects quality, convenience and sharp pricing. Anticipation of Lidl’s arrival was a factor in any number of transformative events in the industry over the past few years, from Walmart’s price and service initiatives, to the Ahold Delhaize merger, to the announcement of $5 billion in renovations and new store announcements made recently by its German counterpart, Aldi.