The superrmarket chain has opened four stations in Southern California
, though so far none of them is super local local (Lake Balboa, Corona, Murrieta, and Rancho Cucamonga). As with Costco and other big chains, prices are lower than average - and Ralphs shoppers can use points on their store rewards card. Ralphs parent, Kroger Co., has been in the retail gas business for quite a while - more than 1,000 of Kroger's 2,435 supermarkets nationwide have fuel stations. Last year, gas sales were $13.1 billion, nearly double the level of two years earlier. Profit margins are over 20 percent. From the Daily News:
"It's just about being able to find a site where we can put a fueling facility. We would like to grow this area of our business," she said. Ralphs buys unbranded gasoline and diesel in the wholesale market, [said company spokeswoman Kendra Doyle]. The company's foray into the retail gasoline market won't have any real impact on competition, said Bob Van der Valk, an oil industry analyst based in Terry, Mont. "It's their way of moving merchandise, not necessarily gasoline. It's a loss leader,
*Reader correctly takes issue with my describing Lake Balboa as not "super local." Fair enough. Also, Kroger's Food 4 Less chain also has several fuel stations in the area.