The first 20 stores to open will be located in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the company said in a press release. Currently, the company has three distribution centers, including a $100m facility in Maryland that also serves as regional headquarters.
With its focus on discount-priced private label products, no frills store layout, and small staff-size per store, analysts expect Lidl’s competition with hometown rival Aldi to be a one-two punch in the US over the next several years.
Fresh produce, meat, and bakery items
Lidl’s European stores stock everything from produce to garments to appliances, a model which retail analysts have said may pose a threat to the likes of Target and Walmart. But the first stores opening will have a smaller assortment focus, Lidl US spokesperson William Harwood told FoodNavigator-USA.
“In terms of our assortment, much of these details will be set closer to launch,” he said. “However, I can tell you that our stores will focus on delivering top quality fresh produce, meat, bakery items, and a wide selection of household goods at the lowest possible prices.
“We will also introduce a promotional non-food section in our stores, which will feature an ever-changing assortment of in-and-out items,” he added. “This is a concept we have found to be very successful across Europe, and we're excited to introduce it here.”
E-commerce vs. Brick-and-Mortar—What’s next for Lidl US?
The company has been tight-lipped about its US expansion, and it remains to be seen if its US store openings this summer will also include an e-commerce operation, a trend that is slowly but surely growing in the grocery sector. But Harwood said that this year, the company’s “focus [is] establishing those physical retail locations.”
One prototype store has been opened in Fredericksburg, VA, about an hour away from the Lidl US headquarters just outside of Washington DC. Architecturally, the prototype store reflects the company’s standard store design, Harwood said.
The large glass windows of the façade differ greatly from the traditional warehouse feel common in the typology of American suburban grocery stores, delivering on Lidl US’ goal to “[introduce] American consumers to a different type of shopping experience."