A beloved low-cost supermarket chain has been closing stores recently despite being named the fastest-growing grocery chain in the U.S. in 2021. Problems at a few of its long-standing locations have led to permanent shutdowns, but in the case of the latest closure, the news is a little less grim.
The ALDI near Saranac Lake in New York may discontinue operations "indefinitely starting in September," if it can't find more employees, according to Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Saranac Lake is a popular summer vacation destination with a population of just over 5,000 residents, which leaves it vulnerable to labor shortages, and according to reports, several employees are moving away or returning to school in the fall, leaving it short-staffed to the point it may be unable to open.
The store's manager says the location has consistently struggled with staffing, even during the pandemic when most businesses experienced issues retaining employees. However, now that labor shortages have been at their highest, the store has found it nearly impossible to acquire and retain enough staff to effectively run.
This is a trend shoppers know all too well. Earlier this year two ALDI locations in Chicago and one in Memphis closed abruptly. However, rather than staff shortages, these stores saw sales plummet alongside repeated burglaries. The Windy City stores were located by West Garfield Park and in the Auburn Gresham neighborhoods of the city. The Memphis location had been open in Orange Mound and Bethel Grove for 15 years and the West Garfield Park in Chicago for 30, making it a blow to the community who've come to rely on it.
Residents who live near the stores have expressed concern that the closures would impact food scarcity in their respective areas. Particularly on the West Side of Chicago, where the Auburn Gresham ALDI was located, locals reported that they were already living in a "food desert" prior to the store shutting its doors. Now there is only one grocery option in that area per 110,000 people, one community member told the Chicago Sun-Times.
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The Memphis location experienced a burglary a just few days before its closure in late May, although no one was injured. Twelve other instances requiring police have occurred in the last year leading up to the store shutting down permanently. ALDI issued a statement afterward saying "repeated burglaries, property damage, and poor sales performance" contributed to the decision.
Despite the closures, ALDI has been on the fast track to expansion. Almost 90 new locations opened last year and the grocery giant is continuing its pace with a goal of opening 150 additional stores by the end of 2022.