By Sarah Halzack February 15, On a busy street in Fredericksburg, Va., a tall, black security fence guards a sprawling — and, for now, largely empty — brick-and-glass building.
The under-wraps facility is a prototype store for Lidl, a German grocery chain that has been working for more than a year to plot its entry into the U.S. market. The company is using the space to test which details appeal to American shoppers: To hit on what kind of signage looks good dangling from the ceiling, to figure out how many aisles makes for the most efficient movement through the store.
Lidl (pronounced lee-duhl) is a global grocery juggernaut, with 10,000 stores in 27 countries. It has made its name offering a limited assortment of goods, many of them private label, at ultralow prices.
Now, it is ready to descend on America, potentially throwing a disruptive curveball in a retailing category that is already scrambling to adapt to new pressures, including the growth of online shopping and competition from nontraditional rivals such as drugstores.