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The Associated Press reports that Ahold-owned Giant in the DC/Baltimore marketplace is in the process of editing its grocery selection as it revamps its stores, "streamlining their inventories and discontinuing the bottom-selling products to make room on the shelves for larger quantities of fewer products."

The stores will still carry 50,000 SKUs, but the chain seems to think that the move will simplify the shopping experience while taking costs out of the supply chain and reducing operating costs; however, the AP story notes that at least some shoppers are frustrated because they cannot find the products they are used to buying at Giant. And some shoppers say that Giant hasn’t resolved a central problem – that its products are more expensive than at the competition's stores.

KC's View:
Is editing the grocery selection part of a broader strategy that will speak eloquently and forcefully to shoppers about Giant's vision of the food experience? Or is it a price-cutting tactic that is meant to put a band-aid on the company's troubles?

If it is the latter, I fear that it is too little, too late.

The question, it seems to me, isn’t whether Giant has fewer products but whether it has the right products. My sense of Giant, having talked to enough people who live and shop its stores, is shoppers tend to be underwhelmed by its offerings – by the physical trappings, by the prices, and by the products being sold. (Tony Kornheiser has said on his radio program that its bagels are barely recognizable as being such. And my impression is that Mr. Tony knows his bagels.)

I know that Giant is working to overhaul its stores, to get back to a time when it was seen as an intrinsic member of the communities it serves. I suspect that this ship has sailed…and that the company has much work to do just to keep up with the estimable competition it faces – Wegmans, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe's and Safeway's new stores.