Lidl has begun its strategic rollout on Long Island with initial store openings in the communities of West Babylon and Center Moriches early on a snowy morning.
The openings follow the Lidl purchase of the local 27-store Best Market supermarket chain last year. Almost all Best Market supermarkets occupy sites in suburban Nassau and Suffolk counties— the focus of Lidl’s key recent expansion initiative— except for a couple in New York City and one in New Jersey.
After initially focusing on exurban and suburban stores as it launched in the United States two years ago, Lidl, a grocery-store-with-general-merchandise retailer based in Germany and active throughout Europe, shifted gears to target densely populated suburbs and urban locations including a unit in the New York City borough of Staten Island. The Long Island, New York, launch will total four stores in its first stage, including two transformed Best Markets, including West Babylon and Huntington, and two ground-up facilities replacing Best Markets, including Center Moriches and Plainview.
The West Babylon store, with 20,000 square feet of retail space, has a different layout than the ground-up facilities Lidl initially opened, with, for example, bakery in the back. Lidl spokesperson William Harwood told HomeWorld Business that Lidl has been adapting both to new markets and new buildings. General merchandise also is configured a bit differently in West Babylon than it is in earlier launched ground-up stores, although the difference between the two formats is minor. Harwood said that the general merchandise assortment essentially is the same. Low price, promotional, mostly private label general merchandise and seasonal products are key to how Lidl markets. Items such as the $6.99 wok and $49.99 wet vac offered in the West Babylon store become marketing fodder, including in the core circular vehicle, that, alongside inexpensive groceries, gets bargain-hunting consumers to try the store. Early adopters typically spread the word about the quality available among the easy-on-the-wallet Lidl own brands.
Housewares are a critical part of Lidl’s general merchandise lineup. Although products sell through, the company constantly offers items in the small electrics, cookware, tabletop, beverage bottle and cleaning/storage segments, and provides other housewares and a smattering of home furnishings occasionally. Housewares and home furnishings also show up in the seasonal assortments that Lidl features, as in the case of holiday themed flameless candles in West Babylon.
Harwood said the Huntington store is the next up for opening. He added that plans as they stand now call for the conversion of all remaining Best Markets to Lidl stores over the next few years, and that the company envisions Long Island expansion beyond the conversions.