Soon, East Texas grocery shoppers will have one less option. The Randall's grocery store in Lufkin will be closing by the end of the year. It is one of 26 Randall's and Tom Thumb stores in the Houston region closing down.
Safeway, the parent company that owns Randall's, will close 16 stores in the Houston market. That market includes Lufkin. The announcement is not a surprise to industry insiders.
"It sort of follows a trend that a lot of the big supermarket companies have been shutting down some of their weaker stores in certain markets. The stores that aren't generating a profit are being closed down. It's mostly because of the intensified competition in some of these markets," says Mark Hamstra, Retail Editor for the trade publication Supermarket News.
Management at the Lufkin Randall's could not comment on the announcement, but a press release from the company, says:
"This is a necessary step toward a healthier Randall's/Tom Thumb... we are committed to improving our business in Texas. Closing these underperforming stores will enable us to execute a more focused and productive Lifestyle store remodel program."
Randall's plans on remodeling its remaining stores to offer more unique selections. Competition from more budget-friendly stores is now becoming a big factor in the supermarket industry.
"Also, your seeing a lot of growth in the food side at dollar stores. Places like Dollar General and Family Dollar, [and] Dollar Tree, that are starting to add more food to their offering. So, the pressure is going to continue to increase for traditional supermarkets."
The company believes increased sales at their other store locations will create employment opportunities for employees at the stores shutting down. How that will specifically effect Lufkin Randall's employees has not been addressed.
Besides the 16 Randall's stores in the Houston area, nine stores in the Dallas - Fort Worth area and one in Austin will also close.