The Crusader Newspaper Group

Urban and rural grocery stores struggling in Illinois

Two Aldi locations in Chicago have closed their doors abruptly, claiming crime and theft as one of the reasons. Grocers have been struggling elsewhere throughout Illinois and closing as well.

Chicago has seen several grocers close their doors within the city. Earlier this year, Whole Foods closed one of its locations.

The Chicago stores are joining several others across the state that have closed up shop. Some grocers have cited poor store performance or lack of sales as reasons for their exits.

At an unrelated news conference this week, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressed how Aldi departed.

“Aldi closed without any notice to its community members and, more importantly, gave no notice to its employees,” Lightfoot said. “That is the wrong way to go about business.”

In a statement to NBC Chicago, an Aldi spokesperson gave the grocer’s reasoning for the exit.

“Our decision was based on several factors, including repeated burglaries and declining sales,” the company said. “Out of concern for our employees and customers … keeping this store open was no longer a sustainable option.”

The Auburn Gresham neighborhood in which the Aldi store was located has been historically a high crime area.

Lightfoot fired back at the company, claiming that poor business is the real reason their stores did not work out.

“If your business is not succeeding and you have to make a tough decision on closing, do not blame the community and make them out to be thieves and worse because your business did not succeed,” Lightfoot said.

Grocery stores have been leaving some rural areas of the state as well. Kroger cleared its shelves in different stores across Illinois after citing underperformance. Hy-Vee in Moline also closed its doors without giving any reason to its employees or the community.

Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and the Illinois Food Council, told The Center Square earlier this year that this is not a new phenomenon.

“This has been going on for several years, frankly,” Karr said. “It frankly became challenging – has become challenging – to operate a full-service grocery store in more rural areas, what some might call food deserts – there is just not the market force to sustain it.”

Lightfoot said that closing a store is “never an easy decision” but had harsh words for Aldi and the company’s handling of the situation.

“Aldi should be ashamed of themselves,” Lightfoot said. “Aldi cannot just have a lucrative store on the northside and then completely abandon the south and west sides.”

This article originally appeared on The Center Square.

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