Like most grocery chains, the once-thriving Piggly Wiggly franchise has faced its share of difficulties since the advent of the pandemic. But have those difficulties proven insurmountable?
This article is based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: Mashed.com, EatThis.com, Wikipedia.org, PigglyWiggly.com, and Marketplace.org.
In her January, 2022 piece for Mashed.com, entitled “Why Piggly Wiggly Might Not Survive 2022,” writer Ashley Steinberg states: Even before COVID-19, the stores were steadily closing. They currently have 500 stores in just 17 states with some being forced to shut down due to staffing issues, increasing competition from other national chains, and growing acquisitions. According to Eat This, Not That!, over the course of one month, Piggly Wiggly closed its doors in a couple spots in North Carolina and Alabama because of labor shortages.
The Eat This, Not That! article referenced, written by Amanda McDonald and titled “This Grocery Chain Keeps Closing Locations,” can be found here.
As excerpted from the article: While these announcements may be unfortunate news for the local communities served by Piggly Wiggly, they aren't a sign of turmoil for the company at large. C&S Wholesale Grocery recently announced plans to buy Piggly Wiggly Midwest, which includes 11 corporate-run locations in Chicago and 84 franchises in Wisconsin.
The messaging is mixed: Is the chain in deleterious financial trouble and on the verge of closing? Or has C&S Wholesale Grocery saved the franchise?
Let us explore further.
Piggly Wiggly, 2022
Piggly Wiggly is something of a pioneer in the grocery store business. For a comprehensive overview of the chain, see Wikipedia page here.
From Wikipedia: Piggly Wiggly is an American supermarket chain operating in the American Southern and Midwestern regions run by Piggly Wiggly, LLC, an affiliate of C&S Wholesale Grocers. Its first outlet opened in 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee, and is notable for having been the first true self-service grocery store, and the originator of various familiar supermarket features such as checkout stands, individual item price marking and shopping carts.
For further history, including the company’s status as a franchise entity, PigglyWiggly.com states: Today there are more than 530 Piggly Wiggly stores serving communities in 17 states. All Piggly Wiggly stores are independently owned and operated, and though they are located primarily in the Southeast, there are Piggly Wiggly stores and as far north as Wisconsin. Piggly Wiggly, LLC’s corporate headquarters are in Keene, N.H. It issues Piggly Wiggly franchises to qualified independent grocery retailers. The company also provides the retailers with services such as support, marketing programs, and a line of promotional items.
On the prospect of more closures, an article from earlier this month by Juliana Kim, published by Marketplace.org and entitled “The Closing of a Nashville Piggly Wiggly Leaves Some With Few Shopping Options,” validates that closings continue, and further shutterings may be in store: Stores in South Carolina and Alabama have also recently closed, raising concerns about food deserts.
There is no indication of permanent company closings among the franchisees or C&S Wholesale Grocery, however. For now, the closures are individual in nature.
Though Piggly Wiggly remains in business, financial experts are closely scrutinizing this year’s financials due to the chain’s recent volatility.
Thank you for reading.