Winn-Dixie closing stores, cutting jobs

Winn Dixie closing storesIf Winn-Dixie is your favorite supermarket, you may soon be whistling another tune. The grocery chain is closing 30 stores (one of which is reportedly in its home town of Jacksonville, Fla.), consolidating some operations, and cutting 120 jobs at its corporate headquarters and field offices.

Winn-Dixie has been around for more than 80 years, but these aren't good times for food retailers. Wal-Mart continues to dominate the grocery landscape and is the top seller of food in the United States through its supercenters, Sam's Clubs and Neighborhood Markets. Target has supercenters too, and is expanding fresh food departments at 350 stores this year. Even national chains like Supervalu are struggling to keep up, posting a decline of 41% for the first quarter just ended, compared to the same period last year. Supervalu is the nation's third largest food retailer after Wal-Mart and Kroger respectively.

Winn-Dixie is in an unenviable position of being a regional retailer in an era when size matters. At its peak in 2001, the chain operated more than 1,000 stores, but after these store closings, it will have just 484 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. And 120 fewer employees. To see if your local store will be affected, check back tomorrow when Winn-Dixie releases the full list.

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