grocery bag full of groceries
What Actually Happened To A&P Grocery Stores?
Founded in New York City in 1859, A&P became one of America's first chain grocery stores, as well as the first to focus on discount pricing, which eventually led to its demise.
Starting in the 1920s, just before the Great Depression, A&P began streamlining inventory and vertical integration through the purchasing of fish canneries and milk producers.
A&P continued to experiment with scientific management strategies that lowered costs. By the late 1930s, the company was the largest retailer in the country behind General Motors.
After the death of owners George and John Hartford in the 1950s, who had been behind A&P's risk-taking and experimenting, the stores experienced a protracted decline.
Competitors like Walmart and Target were able to beat A&P in terms of both low prices and wider product selections, using the same tactics A&P had used in the 1920s and '30s.
A&P's stores were soon considered outdated, and they stuck to offering only basic food items, while other chains began offering more high-end and non-food items to consumers.
A&P had grown through their low prices, but it couldn't keep up with competition. When the brand filed for bankruptcy in 2010, it had only 395 stores, mostly in the Northeast.
With their low prices turning less than profitable and no unique products, A&P had nothing left to offer shoppers. After a second bankruptcy in 2015, the stores were gone for good.