Consumers Flock To Megastores

Like most people, Cindy Bray of Edina used to do all her shopping at conventional grocery stores.

She'd get meat and produce at Lunds and Byerly's, the Twin Cities' higher-end grocery stores. For essentials like cereal and milk, she'd head to Cub Foods, the area's longtime supermarket leader.

But over the past year, that has changed. She goes to Cub a lot less, and SuperTarget a lot more.

Bray is among a growing number of Twin Cities shoppers who get at least some of their groceries from discount megastores, most notably SuperTarget and Wal-Mart Supercenters. A decade ago these stores didn't exist in the metro area; now they have about a quarter of the market.

The expansion of the discounters has made an already tough business that much more competitive, putting downward pressure on prices at all grocery stores — a plus for consumers. And the grim economy of the past 18 months has only given the discounters more leverage.

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