Whither Winn-Dixie? Publix asserts total domination of Palm Beach County grocery market

Greg Lovett / The Palm Beach Post

Palm Beach County residents of a certain age recall when going to the grocery store meant choosing between Publix and Winn-Dixie.

These days, there’s not much of a choice. Publix has so thoroughly vanquished Winn-Dixie that the Lakeland-based grocer has seven times as many locations as Winn-Dixie. And Publix has more Palm Beach County locations than all other grocers combined.

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That’s according to research by Josh Ladle, a broker at commercial real estate firm Avison Young. He says he visited every one of the 130 grocery-anchored shopping centers in Palm Beach County to compile a comprehensive list of supemarkets in the county. The results:

  • Publix leads the way with 75 stores in Palm Beach County.
  • Winn-Dixie has just 11 stores.
  • Walmart Neighborhood Market has 8 supermarkets (more, of course, if you include the grocery sections in Walmart’s full-size stores).

No other grocery chain has more than six locations. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have four each, while Aldi has six.

Winn-Dixie rode a string of lackluster customer service and financial woes into near-oblivion.

“The quality was just so much better at Publix that they took all the market,” Ladle said.

Now, Publix is pinching out rivals by opening new stores wherever it can. The result, Ladle said, is that the prime locations for supermarkets are taken.

Ladle also tracked vacancies at grocery-anchored centers and found 8.4 percent vacancies at Publix plazas, compared to 16.8 percent at Winn-Dixie properties. However, he said, the numbers were skewed because a number of the Winn-Dixie centers are being redeveloped.

Publix operated 1,136 stores as of the end of 2016.

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