- Aldi’s timeline for opening grocery stores in Arizona is still unclear despite expectations for store operations to begin in 2019, according to an article in The Arizona Republic. Aldi has not officially announced its plans in the state, but local officials from various cities have confirmed working with the discount retailer.
- A distribution center for Aldi is currently under construction in Goodyear, Arizona and is expected to open in 2020. An Aldi location in Buckeye, Arizona near Phoenix was expected to open in early 2019, but now a spokesperson for the city says it won’t open until the distribution center is complete.
- Officials in Chandler, Arizona also approved plans for an Aldi, but a city spokesperson said the company has not picked up its permit. Other Aldi locations expected in Arizona are at various stages of the planning and approval process, including stores in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Peoria, Glendale and Gilbert.
Arizona has the potential to be a major market for Aldi in the U.S., and industry experts as well as local residents and officials have had their eyes on the discounter's progress in the state for several months. Reports of Aldi’s Arizona expansion first surfaced last spring, with estimates of nine stores and a distribution center driving its entrance into the Grand Canyon State.
Since then, it’s been difficult for local and state officials to nail down a specific timeline on when and where Aldi will open. In Tempe, Arizona, the city has approved design plans for one location and a remodel for another location, but both permits are set to expire this month. In Peoria, city officials have sent comments to Aldi on a location pending approval, but Aldi has not responded.
According to Planned Grocery, a site that tracks store development nationwide, Aldi has 14 locations in development in Arizona. It's unclear if the chain has begun construction on any of its sites. George Daigh, partner with Planned Grocery, told Grocery Dive it takes Aldi an estimated six months to go from breaking ground to opening on a 20,000-square-foot location. By that estimation, any Aldi that hasn't begun construction within the next two months likely won't open this year, though Daigh said the six-month timeframe could be expedited given Arizona's favorable weather.
While 14 is only a fraction of the 130 stores that Aldi plans to open this year throughout the U.S., the retailer has the potential to shake up the grocery landscape in Arizona, which is already a crowded grocery market as well as a destination for key shopper demographics, including retirees and millennials.
Fry’s Food and Drug is one of the most popular grocery chains in Arizona, and Sprouts, which is headquartered in Phoenix, has announced plans for another new store this year. When it comes to low prices and private label products, Aldi could face stiff competition from Trader Joe's and WinCo, which both operate several locations in the cities Aldi is targeting.
With plans to open 2,500 stores in the U.S. by 2022, every bit of progress counts for Aldi. The construction on its distribution center is promising and should indicate that store openings are not far off. Completion of the center will be a pivotal piece for the discounter to jumpstart its Arizona operations and once it is placed, the state could see store plans and openings speed up.
Jeff Wells contributed reporting to this story.