Saturday, May 17, 2008

What Others Are Saying: Press-Enterprise Newspaper Investigates if There's A 'Fresh & Easy Effect' in Southern California's Inland Empire Region

Fresh flowers can be a woman's best friend. A shopper selects a bouquet of fresh flowers at the Fresh & Easy grocery store in Moreno Valley, in Southern California's Inland Empire. (Photo: Kurt Miller. Courtesy: Press-Enterprise.)

The Press-Enterprise newspaper, which serves residents in the Southern California Inland Empire region counties of Riverside and San Bernardino, has a piece written by staff business writer Lou Hirsh about the impact of Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market grocery stores on the area's food and grocery retailing scene.

As Fresh & Easy Buzz readers are aware, we've written frequently about the Inland Empire region's food and grocery retailing market as its one of Tesco's key target markets for its small-format, convenience-oriented Fresh & Easy grocery stores, as well as becoming an increasingly super-competitive market in general.

As we've reported, Tesco says it could open as many as 48 Fresh & Easy combination basic grocery and fresh foods stores in the region by the end of 2009. Tesco currently has eight Fresh & Easy grocery markets open in the area: one each in Hemet (the very first store opened), Indio, Palm Desert, Riverside, Moreno Valley and San Jacinto; and two stores in Upland.

Tesco also has its Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market corporate headquarters and its 800,000-plus square foot distribution center located in Southern California's Inland Empire region, in Riverside County. By virtue of this fact, its fair to say the Inland Empire region is Fresh & Easy's "home turf."

The Press Enterprise story addresses the question, which we address regularly on Fresh & Easy Buzz as well, if Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is yet having any impact on the competitive food and grocery retailing scene in the region with its seven stores open and operating in the market thus far.

Numerous investment banking and food retailing analysts offer their analysis of Fresh & Easy in the piece. Additionally, in the piece, the writer quotes opinions of consumers in the region regarding their observations and experiences with the grocery stores.

The upshot to the offerings from the various analysts quoted in the story and the consensus of overall opinions is: It's too early to tell if Tesco's Fresh & Easy is having any impact on the food and grocery retailing scene in the Inland Empire region, which is fair.

Read the Press-Enterprise story here.

Staff writer Hirsh also has a companion piece about how the recessionary economy in the region, along with what we've called the "super-heated" food and grocery retailing scene in Southern California's Inland Empire, is effecting shoppers.

The piece offers a good overview in terms of how consumers in the region are dealing with food inflation and the soaring cost of food, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported yesterday is at its highest levels in 18 years.

As part of dealing with the rapidly-rising cost of food and groceries, Inland Empire shoppers are doing what most shoppers throughout the U.S. are currently doing, which is looking for the best bargains they can find in order to feed their families without having to morgage their futures completely.

Read staff writer Lou Hirsh's companion piece, "Inland shoppers bring market changes," here.

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