Discount grocer Aldi is continuing its local expansion with the opening of its eighth store on Long Island.
The store will open Thursday on the redeveloped site of a former Pathmark grocery store, at 1251 Deer Park Ave. in North Babylon Plaza. The store will be the second Aldi to open on Long Island this year, since the discounter made its Nassau County entrance in February with a store in Green Acres Commons in Valley Stream.
“Long Island is an important market for us, and we are proud to be opening our second new store this year,” Chris Daniels, South Windsor division vice president for ALDI, said in a statement Monday. “Opening new stores and providing even more customers access to healthy, low-price groceries has always been one of our top priorities, and it’s more critical now than ever before."
Like competitors Lidl and Trader Joe’s, Aldi is a limited-assortment store, which is smaller and carries fewer products than a traditional supermarket. The Aldi in North Babylon occupies 21,000 square feet.
Limited-assortment stores also carry a high percentage of their own private-label brands.
More than 90% of the products in Aldi’s stores are private label.
Aldi has more than 2,000 stores across the country and is adding about 70 in the second half of 2020, according to the Germany-based company, whose U.S. headquarters are in Batavia, Illinois.
The company's North Babylon and Valley Stream stores are part of Aldi's nationwide investment of more than $5 billion to remodel existing stores and open hundreds of new locations.
"We don’t have specific Long Island expansion plans to share now, but this isn’t the end of our growth on Long Island," Daniels said.
Aldi's fast expansion and strong sales are expected to continue as the recession attracts more budget-conscious consumers, said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Intelligence, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Also, the discounter's small stores and limited selection bode well for sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
“In today’s pandemic world, most shoppers just want to get in and out of the store quickly,” Hauptman said.
The Pathmark in North Babylon was one of 51 Long Island grocery stores, some of which were Waldbaum’s, that closed after their parent company, Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. in New Jersey, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2015.
After Pathmark left North Babylon Plaza, the remaining few tenants also exited because of the loss of foot traffic, leaving the property vacant for a few years, said Marc Kemp, a principal at Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman, which owns the 6-acre property through an affiliate, North Babylon Associates.
The 102,000-square-foot shopping center was demolished last summer, and redevelopment began.
Other new businesses slated for the shopping center are Planet Fitness and a self-storage company.
The 20,000-square-foot gym will open in September, Kemp said.
Planet Fitness, which is headquartered in Hampton, New Hampshire, did not respond to a request for comment.
The self-storage facility is being constructed by a different owner, since North Babylon Associates sold about 2 acres of the shopping center property last year to Johnson Development Associates Inc., a Spartanburg, South Carolina, company.
Johnson Development’s two-story, 100,000-square-foot self-storage facility, called Extra Space Storage, will open in the fall, said Bailey Gaffney, director of entitlements for Johnson Development.