Why Piggly Wiggly Might Not Survive 2022

The time period of 2020 through 2021 has been quite the journey — and many grocery stores and franchises in particular have had to pay the price. Chains like Giant Eagle and Whole Foods are struggling under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some that offered indoor dining options and could no longer utilize the space have had to close, coupled with the general steady decline of brick and mortar store visits as more people shop online for food.

Piggly Wiggly may be in for a rough 2022 based on these changing conditions. For those unfamiliar, the grocery chain was established in 1916 and was the first real self-service store giving customers freedom to shop for themselves (rather than staff gathering items) and passed on the cost savings in food prices, per the official website. They quickly became a staple and role model in the grocery world, establishing many traditional elements that are a standard today, like shopping basket carts and refrigerator cases to keep cold food. But, the overwhelming reality caused by the pandemic may prove too intense for this chain.

Are more closures coming for Piggly Wiggly?

Piggly Wiggly's historically strong start has definitely been compacted over the past few years. Even before COVID-19, the stores were steadily closing. They currently have 500 stores in just 17 states with some being forced to shut down due to staffing issues, increasing competition from other national chains, and growing acquisitions. According to Eat This, Not That!, over the course of one month, Piggly Wiggly closed its doors in a couple spots in North Carolina and Alabama because of labor shortages.

Additionally, an acquisition of Piggly Wiggly's Midwest stores may signal more changes. Supermarket News reported in July that C&S Wholesale Grocers is buying out 11 corporate stores and 84 franchise locations. But this isn't necessarily bad news as C&S already works with most of the chain's locations. "The purchase of Piggly Wiggly Midwest is a natural expansion of our already successful Piggly Wiggly Carolina business and reinforces our strong commitment to this beloved brand," C&S Wholesale Grocers CEO Bob Palmer said to the outlet. "It is a well-established legend in grocery retail that is valued by customers for its competitive pricing and focus on service." So perhaps all will fair okay for this beloved brand — we'll have to wait to see how 2022 plays out for grocery chains like this one.