Sylven said that during the past year Shaw’s has focused on “bringing our pricing back in line with our competition” by reducing the cost of thousands of items and launching promotions, including its recent “Gotta Love Great Deals” initiative.
Dworsky contends the effort is too little too late.
“You can go to the Somerville Shaw’s at Twin City [Plaza] on a Saturday, and have the store almost to yourself,” Dworsky said. “Go to the Market Basket outside Union Square in Somerville, and you often can’t even find a parking spot in their lot. And people there load up their baskets like there is a pending hurricane.”
Similar scenes play out in other communities. In Plymouth, customers often have trouble finding a parking space at the Stop & Shop off Route 3. The Shaw’s lot a half mile west on the same road is frequently a sea of open pavement.
Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. of Quincy made major investments in stores and pricing initiatives. The moves have helped the chain defend its roughly 30 percent New England market share in the past decade. The firm has more than 400 locations, including some in New York and New Jersey.
Hannaford Supermarkets, a Maine-based chain, has grown more than any other grocer in New England since 2003, increasing its store count from 88 to 166 by last year, the Griffin Report said. Its arrival in the town of Easton six years ago slowly transformed the shopping habits of many residents, including Gail Ziniti, who converted from Shaw’s to Hannaford after discovering the new store had better deals.
“When the Shaw’s market first opened in Easton, it was crowded and there were lines at the registers and deli,” Ziniti said. “Today, you can stop in during the [week]day or even on a weekend day and there are only a handful of shoppers.”