Growth of Discounter Aldi Shakes up Competitive Southern California Grocery Market

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Ralphs was the supermarket of choice for Inglewood hairdresser Elise Santos — until grocery chain Aldi arrived in Southern California last year.

Customers shop at an Aldi grocery store in Chicago on June 12, 2017, when Aldi announced plans to open 900 new stores in the United States. (Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Aldi, a German-based discount grocer, opened its first U.S. store in 1976 but reached California only last year. It’s now rapidly expanding and quickly has become Santos’ go-to market.

“I prefer Aldi because it is smaller than grocery stores like Ralphs,” she said, and “the employees are friendlier and more helpful.”

With 38 stores in Southern California, Aldi is just getting a toehold in the local grocery industry. But with the region already one of the most competitive in the nation, Aldi is adding to the pressure on Ralphs, Albertsons, Wal-Mart and other big chains — as well as smaller grocers such as Sprouts — to keep loyal shoppers and avoid losing market share.

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