EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

August 8, 2013

Grocery store wars heat up in New Hampshire

Consumer choice is upending grocery giants in New Hampshire

Stop & Shop’s retreat from New Hampshire isn’t upsetting Granite State grocery shoppers.

Neither is Shaw’s recent decision to trim stores in the state.

They are far too busy comparison shopping and trying to save money to lose sleep over the changing market scene.

“I shopped for years at Stop & Shop in Massachusetts and they were always high priced,” Dave Norton of Windham said as he unloaded his cart outside Market Basket yesterday in Londonderry.

“This is a fair-priced store,” Norton said, nodding toward Market Basket. “They have good product here.”

The pending departure of Stop & Shop didn’t surprise Tom Moore of Derry.

“They have to do what they have to do, I guess,” he said. “Shaw’s and Stop & Shop remind me of the difference in price between a convenience store and a supermarket.”

Stop & Shop this week announced it is closing all six of its New Hampshire stores. Shaw’s last week said it is closing six of 34 Granite State stores, though local stores will remain open.

Both companies faced intense competition.

Market Basket is engaged in a major New Hampshire buildout, erecting new stores and replacing old ones as they did in Londonderry.

Hannaford is long established. Wal-Mart has a new super center selling groceries in Derry. Aldi’s is expanding to Plaistow.

“There is increased competition and everyone is looking for the lowest price,” said John Dumais, New Hampshire Grocers Association president.

Shoppers are concerned about their jobs, their health insurance, what they are paying at the gas pump. All those things are making people more conscious about what they are spending at the store, Dumais said.

So, grocery chains are responding to shoppers like Moore.

“I like price,” he said.”It’s all economics.”

Moore yesterday could get a breakfast bar that he wanted on sale and found bananas at a good price.

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