June 25, 2012

Is the Wal-Mart/Shoprite Summer Competition Over Before it Starts?

MONTICELLO, NY -- For the past few summers an annual rivalry existed between  Shoprite and Wal-Mart, only a few hundred feet away, for the lucrative summer kosher business. But with Wal-Mart battling an unprecedented vermin problem, some kosher food industry sources believe that Wal-Mart “may as well hoist the white flag” this summer. 

The sources say that Wal-Mart has brought in crews to clean every nook and cranny. But even if they do manage to “come clean,” the question is whether kosher shoppers will return. The chains  invested heavily into attracting some of the 300,000 Orthodox Jews that vacation in the Catskills. 

After opening with a bang several years ago in Monticello and recording over $2.1 million in kosher sales in just 10 weeks, the Wal-Mart’s Monticello store in subsequent years came under criticism for not fully capitalizing on the opportunity to attract kosher consumers. 

Meanwhile rival Shoprite was “getting it  right,”  stocking the right products, hiring a kosher coordinator, and even having signs in Yiddish. Most importantly for many consumers, it competed in price.