- United Supermarkets is opening a "next-generation" supermarket in Lubbock, Texas, on Wednesday that incorporates design changes inspired by the pandemic, the Albertsons-owned banner announced.
- The new location will have "the widest aisles we’ve ever put in a store" and offer food from an on-site branch of a local barbecue restaurant for curbside pickup, United President Sidney Hopper said in a statement.
- The store, United's 12th in Lubbock, further cements United's connection with the West Texas city where it is based.
United's latest store represents an effort by the grocer to leverage adjustments it made in response to the pandemic to position its latest store as a destination for local shoppers.
The new supermarket, at 11310 Slide Road in Lubbock, includes "thousands of additional square feet" compared with United's traditional store design and reserves space directly at the front for customers to pick up orders placed through the chain's Streetside curbside pickup program, Hopper said. The store will also offer delivery service.
In addition, the store will allow customers to order ready-to-eat food prepared in-store, such as pizza, sandwiches and fried chicken as well as fare from local favorite Evie Mae's Barbecue, through a new curbside pickup option known as Texas Takeout.
"This United Supermarkets location represents a culmination of innovation and adaptation after a year of unprecedented challenges," Hopper said. United broke ground on the store, the 97th in the chain, in October.
The presence in the new store of Evie Mae's first location beyond its original site in the Lubbock suburb of Wolfforth, Texas, allows United to attract customers interested in patronizing the popular local eatery, which pivoted quickly into an all-pickup operation at the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The restaurant, which used a food truck to stay in business when it was forced to close its dining room and will operate a kitchen in the United store, saw sales of to-go boxes rise 350% in the early days of the pandemic, Texas Monthly magazine reported.
United also intends to draw customers with the option to purchase craft beer and wine from an in-store bar known as Tap House. Customers will be able to consume the beverages while they shop or on the store's patio, according to Hopper.
The store will also house a noodle and sushi bars, a Starbucks, and a full-service bakery, United said.
United's focus on providing customers with reasons to enter and linger in its stores reflects research that shows people are eager to spend time in supermarkets. A poll conducted in April by Survey Monkey found that 86% of U.S. adults want to purchase groceries in the store. Meanwhile, survey data released that same month by Inmar Intelligence indicated that shoppers have become more comfortable shopping in supermarkets as more people get inoculated against COVID-19.