business news in context, analysis with attitude

Good piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the strident price competition taking place in that market. “Bargain hunters are price-checking and taste-testing their way through the grocery business,” the Post-Gazette reports. “They have turned discounter Wal-Mart into the nation's largest grocer, convinced Giant Eagle to launch a budget private-label line and now are feeding a niche known as the limited assortment store.

“Limited assortment chains such as Aldi and Save-A-Lot pare the shopping experience to its core. They carry only items people buy most, build smaller stores that require little labor and eliminate what customers take for granted -- free carts and bags, for example -- to offer everyday prices about 40 percent below traditional stores.

“While a Giant Eagle store might have employees hovering over the produce, tending the floral shop, watching children in the Eagle's Nest, renting videos, taking dry cleaning and filling prescriptions, Aldi has no deli, no butcher shop, no bakery, not even a listed number that would require an employee to answer the telephone.”
KC's View:
While there are similar battles taking place in a lot of other markets, Pittsburgh reportedly is ripe for such competition because its prices have been higher than in other US markets.

The question that other retailers have to ask is whether not having a listed phone number is emblematic of a greater level of lack of connection to the customer.

Of course, maybe a telephone number is irrelevant if you have the lowest price.