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The Charlotte Observer reports that “Wal-Mart is going after Matthews-based Harris Teeter with a tactic it's trying only in Charlotte: a series of grocery ads featuring head-to-head price comparisons on everything from chicken soup to ice cream.

“The ads, running on television, online and in the Observer, signal a bid by the world's largest retailer to regain its footing after seeing its reputation as the lowest-cost store erode in recent years. Wal-Mart, the Charlotte region's largest grocer, hopes to make inroads against hometown chain Harris Teeter, the second largest.”

"Right now, it's just in Charlotte," Walmart spokeswoman Tara Raddohl tells the Observer. "We do have some intent to utilize the same campaign in some local markets, but not at a national level."
KC's View:
At least not yet.

The Observer correctly notes that Walmart is playing hardball on prices these days because it has lost the perception over the past few years that it has the lowest prices in the marketplace; at the same time, rising gas prices at the pump make it an ideal time for Walmart to try to gain back the advantage. (In fact, I’d expect Walmart to play the gas card a lot in coming months. It strikes me as inevitable.)

At the same time, Harris-Teeter is smart to play its own game - promising competitive prices, focusing on the advantages available through its loyalty program, and making sure that customers understand that “value” is established in many different ways.

Harris-Teeter could lose some business to Walmart because of tough times, but in the end it will be better served by never losing sight of its long term strategic imperatives, and not getting down into the mud with a competitor that is bigger and maybe even a little bit desperate to get its groove back.