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2012 Delaware Profile: State Slowly Emerges from Recession

Shelby Report Delaware Profile
[gn_note color=”#b1cbde”]The 2012 Delaware Profile originally ran in the February 2012 edition of The Shelby Report of the Northeast. The profile will be published on theshelbyreport.com one month after it has run in print.[/gn_note]

by Ashley Bates/staff writer

The economic recovery in Delaware has been slow, but the state seems to be pulling out of the financial doldrums on its way to brighter days, reports say.

In December, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Delaware’s unemployment rate was 7.4 percent, far lower than the 8.5 percent national average. Just a year ago, the unemployment rate in Delaware was 8.5 percent.

On Jan. 19, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell gave the State of the State address, expressing optimism about the future.

“This economic storm posed particular challenges for Delaware industries upon which we had depended for decades, like financial services and automotive manufacturing, but it made landfall in almost every corner of our nation,” he said. “While Delaware was not alone in facing this storm, the way we responded was unique…we made tough decisions to balance our budgets while still making investments necessary to keep moving forward. We cut where it was possible and invested where it was important—to create jobs, improve schools and build infrastructure.”

The governor pointed to companies like DuPont, W.L. Gore, Ashland, AstraZeneca, ILC and Amazon that have helped the state through the struggling economy.

PNC Bank released an economic forecast for 2012 that said finance and professional services are adding to their payrolls, but there is little sign of recovery elsewhere in the labor market. Most other private industries are shedding jobs, and the jobless rate is ­tracking sideways. The market area has a long climb ahead, the forecast said.

An article on the Newark Post Online reports that recovery is slow in the Delaware and Philadelphia region, “with evidence that the dormant housing sector is holding back stronger growth in manufacturing, banking and consumer goods sales.”

The article continued, “Manufacturers, retailers and auto dealers say modest growth ­continues and prospects for hiring appear to be brightening in auto sales, healthcare and energy-related industries,” citing the “Beige Book” report recently released by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank.

Pennsylvania-based Redner’s Market expects to open two stores in Delaware this year: one in Milford in the spring and one in Camden in the fall.

Last June, Redner’s announced that the Milford Warehouse Market will be located on Route 113 and Seabury Avenue in the Cypress Hall Shopping Center in Sussex County.

A new 49,000-s.f. store, it was set to get under way last July and open this spring.

In December Redner’s announced plans for the Camden location in Kent County, its third in the county. The 48,000-s.f. Warehouse Market will be located on DuPont Highway in the CR Plaza II Shopping Center. A new construction, groundwork is slated to begin in February, pending all required permits have been obtained by the developer.

Redner’s Warehouse Markets are full-service grocery stores that offer in-store bakery, full-service deli, full-service seafood, produce and meat departments, along with frozen, dairy, health and beauty care/nonfoods and grocery departments. The stores employ about 150 people in both full and part-time positions.

Redner’s, an employee-owned company, operates 40 warehouse markets and 16 Quick Shoppes in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.

A new ShopRite opened in Bear in December in the Governor Square Shopping Center where a Safeway formerly operated. The store is owned by Delaware Supermarkets, which is run by the Kenny family.

Renovation and expansion of the Bear store site started last summer, adding 10,000.s.f to the former Safeway for a total of 63,000 s.f.

According to newsworks.org, Safeway left the Governor Square location in favor of a location five miles away at People’s Plaza. ShopRite believes it improved both the ­appearance and the store offerings vs. the store it replaced.

Delaware Supermarkets operates four other ShopRite locations in New Castle County, according to newsworks.org. These are in Stanton, Newark, north Wilmington and most recently the Wilmington riverfront.

The new store in Bear will include the features of the Wilmington location, including a restaurant. Unlike the Wilmington location, the Bear store will not have a pharmacy.

ShopRite has been gaining ­market share in the Delaware Valley as other chains have been closing stores and is now listed as having edged out Acme as the largest supermarket chain in the Delaware Valley, ­according to the report.

ShopRite is the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the U.S. It is comprised of 45 members who own and operate stores under the ShopRite banner. Keasbey, N.J.-based Wakefern Food Corp. is the merchandising and distribution arm of ShopRite.

The planning and zoning commission in Hilliard is hoping to see more details on Feb. 9 about a $55 million development proposed for 4300 Cemetery Rd. that would bring a third Giant Eagle grocery store to the city, ThisWeek Community Newspapers reports.

Developer Frank Kass of Continental Real Estate presented plans on Jan. 12, but members said they needed more information before they could give the project the go-ahead.

Kass said that First Industrial Realty Trust is selling the 55-acre site for $5 million; a closing is scheduled for late March.

Another retailer is set to make its mark on Delaware in 2012, but just over the state line in Pennsylvania.

According to www.delawarefirst.org, a Whole Foods store was turned down in Delaware a few years ago, but Texas-based Whole Foods didn’t give up on the area.

It will open a store just a few miles from Wilmington in Concordville, Pa.

Julie Miro Wenger, executive director of the Delaware Food Industry Council, the statewide trade association for supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies, was quoted as saying, “In this economic climate people are looking to save money and stretch their dollars but everyone is health conscious and looking for healthier foods.”

Wenger added that she doesn’t expect a Whole Foods coming just across the state line will “change the supermarket landscape.

“Whole Foods has its own niche and many consumers are very excited to see it come into the market,” she said. “But it won’t drastically impact the market.”

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