- Aldi was the fastest-growing grocery chain in the United States in 2021 in terms of both the number of new stores it opened and the square footage those locations took up, according to data published last week by Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a professional services firm focused on commercial real estate.
- The 88 U.S. locations the German supermarket company debuted last year collectively account for more than 2.2 million square feet of space — well ahead of the 1.3 million square feet Publix added, JLL reported in its 2022 Grocery Tracker released on Thursday.
- Aldi's rapid growth in recent years has made it the nation's third-largest grocer by store count, with only Kroger and Walmart ahead, JLL reported.
Aldi's frenetic expansion pace last year came on top of the rapid growth it recorded in 2020 and 2019, when the company's efforts to enlarge its U.S. footprint also placed it ahead of its rivals.
Overall, grocery chains generated a 200% increase in new leases in 2021 compared with 2019, a reflection of the investments the industry has been making as a result of the sales surge brought on by the pandemic in 2020, JLL noted. Grocers have been putting money into store renovations as well as new locations as they devote resources to their brick-and-mortar retail facilities in a quest to keep growing, the firm pointed out.
JLL's analysis involved grocery chains with more than $3 billion in revenue and at least 100 stores under one or more banners.
Discount chain Grocery Outlet added nearly 900,000 square feet of new space in 2021, enough for third place behind Aldi and Publix, JLL said. Giant Eagle, Sprouts Farmers Market and Amazon Fresh were next on the list, in that order, followed by Schnuck Markets, ShopRite, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods Market, according to the real estate company.
JLL noted that Lidl, which has far fewer U.S. stores than Aldi but is engaged in a robust expansion effort of its own, also made progress in opening new stores in this country in 2021.
Aldi's growth last year was a bit behind the pace it had projected at the start of 2021, when the company said it would open 100 new stores during the year.
Still, the company isn't showing any signs of slowing down. In February, Aldi announced it intends to open about 150 stores in the U.S. in 2022.