We explored SafeGraph’s Point-of-Interest data to discover the top chains for grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, & hotels in each state. We were surprised to find that some business categories had just a few dominant players across the U.S., but in other categories, the landscape was much more fragmented & diverse.
The grocery store chain that’s so ubiquitous in your state? It’s likely your friends on the other side of the country have never heard of it! When looking at the supermarket chain with the most number of locations in each state, 29 different brands were state leaders.
However, when we look at the data from a parent company perspective, the landscape turns out to be a lot less fragmented. Kroger owns brands like Frys, Fred Meyer, Harris Teeter, & Smith’s. Ahold Delhaize, a Dutch retail company, operates Foodlion, Stop & Shop, Giant, & Hannaford. Albertsons owns its namesake and Safeway.
The grocery store market hasn’t always been this fragmented. Back in the 1930s, A&P (Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co.) was the leader in the supermarket sector, with nearly 16,000 stores at its peak. Since then, Walmart has emerged as the 800-pound gorilla, taking in about 30% of nationwide grocery revenue.
Former Kroger CEO, David B. Dillon, explained that maintaining the local branding and store layouts of regional grocery chains serves as a useful differentiator against Walmart’s more uniform look and feel.
Pharmacy chains are much more consolidated than grocery chains. CVS & Walgreens are both leaders in 20 states each. Rite Aid, the leader in terms of store locations in 7 states, came in a distant third. In 2018, Walgreens purchased almost 1,900 Rite Aid stores, so the pharmacy landscape is more of a duopoly than the map initially lets on.
As a brand, CVS hasn’t always been so dominant. In the 1990s and 2000s, CVS acquired Peoples Drug, Revco, Arbor Drugs, & Eckerd and re-branded all these chains to CVS which allowed them to become the dominant player they are today.
Many of today’s most popular gas station brands can trace their roots back to Standard Oil. Broken up in 1911 by the Sherman Antitrust Act, Standard Oil was split into 34 ‘Baby Standards’.
Standard Oil of California turned into Chevron, Standard Oil of Jersey turned into Exxon, and Standard Oil of New York turned into Mobil.
The hotel landscape faces much more consolidation than gas stations and grocery stores. Hampton Inn & Suites is the top hotel chain in terms of the number of locations in 22 states. Originally started as a budget hotel by the Holiday Corporation (parent company to Holiday Inn), through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Hampton Inn came under the ownership of Hilton Worldwide in 1999.
Super Motel 8 comes in as the 2nd most popular chain, with a stronghold in 10 Midwestern states. Best Western is in a close third with the most number of hotels in 9 western states.
Check out the blog post Top 3 Most Popular Fast Food Chains By State. Surprisingly enough, the #1 most popular quick-service restaurant in terms of the number of locations isn’t McDonald’s!
Want to visualize the data or analyze it for retail site selection purposes? Download Points-of-Interest & foot traffic insights (like visitor counts, dwell times, and distances traveled) from SafeGraph’s Data Bar. Use coupon code TopChainsDataGainz on checkout to get $50 worth of free data (no credit-card needed on checkout).
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