Weis Markets will close its store in Breezewood Shopping Center in Spotsylvania County on Feb. 13.

It is the second Weis Markets location to close in the Fredericksburg area since the Sunbury, Pa., grocery retailer bought 38 Food Lion supermarket locations in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware in 2016 from Delhaize Group, Food Lion’s parent company. The store at 736 Warrenton Road closed in November 2018.

Jeffery Metzger, editor of the trade publication Food World, said he wasn’t surprised, because Weis Markets has made little or no financial investment in any of its Virginia stores or marketed them aggressively. Most of the stores also lack pharmacies and their deli, meat and bakery departments are “undersized” compared to those of their larger competitors such as Giant Food, Publix and Wegmans.

He added that the chain, like other grocers, is facing increasing competition from other retailers such as fast-growing Dollar General as well as online competitors including Amazon and Walmart.

Delhaize had to sell 13 of its 21 Food Lion stores in Virginia as part of the requirements to win the Federal Trade Commission’s approval for its merger with Royal Ahold, the parent company of Giant Foods. Metzger said Weis Markets originally intended to purchase just the 24 Food Lions that were mostly in Maryland and Delaware. It got a deal on the locations in Virginia mainly so Delhaize could divest itself of those stores.

Weis Markets in Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties ranked fourth among area grocery retailers in overall sales for 2018, according to Food World magazine’s latest annual market share survey for the Mid-Atlantic region. But its sales dipped from the previous survey. They went from $118.95 million in 2017 to $105.36 million in 2018.

With this latest closing, Weis Markets now has one store in Culpeper, one in Fredericksburg, three in Stafford and five in Spotsylvania.

Metzger said he doubts another grocery chain will decide to open in Weis Market’s location in Breezewood Shopping Center. He said the Fredericksburg area is already “overstored” when it comes to places that sell groceries, and the digital side of the grocery business is growing.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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