The country’s two largest supermarket chains want to merge, which would locally combine Safeway, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, and QFC. Kroger would own 26 of the 28 mid-sized conventional supermarkets in the area, likely resulting in higher prices, the closure of stores, and shopping center redevelopment.
There are 46 supermarkets in the central Eastside: 28 conventional supermarkets operated as Albertson, Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer, Walmart Neighborhood Market, and Town and Country; six limited-assortment Trader Joes; seven fresh-format Metropolitan Markets, PCCs, and Whole Foods; and five Targets and Costcos. The only conventional supermarkets not owned by Kroger would be a Walmart “neighborhood market” in central Bellevue and a Town and Country in Newcastle’s Lakemont neighborhood.
Kroger would own nine of the 11 conventional supermarkets in Bellevue, all four in Redmond, all three on the plateau, all four in Kirkland, and both on Mercer Island. As one of the few mid-priced alternatives, Trader Joe’s, with its good values, would have a field day.
The last time there was a major merger, between Safeway and Albertsons, Haggen bought many of the surplus stores, and that ended in bankruptcy. This time around there will probably not be a third party. Safeway and QFC have been battling it out locally for the last 20 years, keeping smaller, less efficient stores open, and the new near-monopoly will probably close those more marginal stores. In the next five years, expect one to close in downtown Redmond, at least two in Bellevue, and one or two elsewhere. In locations downtown or near the better neighborhoods, developers will probably look to mixed-use redevelopment, with five to ten times as much residential space as commercial.