The Lidl banner was officially unfurled on Long Island December 11 when the German discount retailer opened its first two stores there – in West Babylon and Center Moriches, both in Suffolk County. A third Suffolk County unit opened on December 18 in Huntington Station, NY.
Those units were part of a 27-store package of locations that were originally owned by Best Markets, which the privately-held extreme value merchant acquired in January 2019. Lidl also opened a non-Best Market affiliated unit on December 18 in Bergenfield, NJ.
The Center Moriches unit is a brand-new store that once was a Waldbaums. The West Babylon (originally a Pathmark) and Huntington Station stores were Best Market conversions. The company expects to open another former Best Market owned facility in Planview, NY early next year.
By mid-2020, other Best Market Long Island stores in East Meadow, Lake Grove, Oakdale and Patchogue are expected to be converted and by 2022 all 27 stores (24 in Nassau and Suffolk counties) are expected to reopen as Lidl units.
Customer counts were solid at all three locations which featured a substantial increase in the number of overall items than the typical Lidl. The SKU expansion can be seen in its perishable departments, including a first for the company – a deli department, which is clearly an adaptation to local tastes. The modified deli department offers freshly sliced meat and cheese and a related self-service grab-and-go area.
The new stores also have a new design package, making for a softer internal décor. Clearly, Lidl is making the necessary adjustments from its early days when the company did a poor job of understanding the needs and comfort levels of consumers when it entered the U.S. in June 2017.
Currently, Lidl operates nearly 90 stores in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic with approximately 25 more stores slated to open in 2020, including the six Baltimore-Washington units it recently acquired from Shoppers Food (UNFI). Globally, the retailer, a unit of the Schwarz Gruppe, owns approximately 11,000 discount units, primarily in Europe.