Cleanliness and Attractiveness 8
Food Quality 6
Comparison Shopping 7
When I attended NC State, I lived in Avent Ferry’s dorms during the first half of my freshman year. Being so close to Western Boulevard, I ended up at Food Lion for groceries during the first few months of college. With that being said, I ended up making the transition to a different super market simply due to more convenient items at places such as Harris Teeter or Trader Joe’s. For example, I often found myself needing Cheez-Its at 12:30 a.m. for whatever reason. Most Food Lions’ don’t stay open past 11 p.m., so you can see where this was a problem.
Nonetheless, Food Lion doesn’t get knocked just because the chain doesn’t stay open late. There are several things that I love about the store, so let me get down to my review. If you’re new to the Raleigh area and are looking for a grocery store, I’d say that it’s safe to assume Food Lion wouldn’t normally be your go-to grocery store. On My3Cents, Food Lion only earned 1.5 stars based on customer reviews.
Pulling into Food Lion is equivalent to walking outside into fresh air after being stuck inside your office cubicle for eight hours straight. The parking is incredible, especially the Food Lion on Western Blvd. You never have to park far away, and people are definitely not fighting over spots. Based on parking alone, I’d give the supermarket a 10. Many of the other locations surrounding Raleigh have large parking lots, with cart-return spaces designed throughout.
When I was at Food Lion, there were plenty of carts available as well. As far as baskets go, they were a bit small for my liking. Grab more than 10 items and you probably won’t be able to fit much else into the basket – not that baskets are created for more than 10 items in the first place, but it’s worth noting.
I didn’t see any self-checkout lanes. After reading further into the issue, Food Lion isn’t big on self-checkout lanes. A lot of the chain’s stores do not have them. The do have express lanes for those with 12 items or less, but I still like to be able to check out my own groceries when I’m not in the mood to talk to anyone. The number of lanes wasn’t a lot, making open lanes a problem. I waited for several minutes just to buy soup.
A plus for Food Lion is the fact that they offer InstaCart Home Delivery for groceries. You can order groceries online and have them delivered right to your doorstep. This is different than Harris Teeter’s curb side pick-up, and might even be more effective for those who simply can’t make it to the grocery store on any given day.
Cleanliness and Attractiveness: 8/10
Wandering around Food Lion, I was impressed by how clean and organized everything was. All of the displays were precisely organized. I’d even go as far as intricately designed when it came to the way holiday dessert displays and such were arranged.
I’ll get to Food Lion’s limited selection later on, but what they do offer is well stocked. All of the fruit and vegetables were stocked, with expiration dates approaching in the next few days. I walked down most of the aisles, and found the same to be true. All products were pulled to the front of the shelves, and I didn’t notice any particular item that seemed to be out of stock. Compared to Harris Teeter, I would say that Food Lion definitely was more well-stocked on this particular night.
As far as the environment goes, Food Lion would be best described as your typical supermarket experience. Close to campus, a lot of college students can be found shopping for groceries at the Western Blvd. Food Lion. It’s worth mentioning that I went to Food Lion on a Sunday night, and it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I expected it to be. There were many more people grabbing a few quick things rather than doing their shopping for the entire week which is common at other grocery stores on a Sunday night. You’ll see more individuals shopping at Food Lion rather than couples or children with their parents.
Food Quality: 6/10
I hate giving Food Lion only 6 points in this category, but I’m going off of what I observed. For the most part, the food looked fresh – until I got to the fruit. In a matter of one minute, I found mushy cherries, brown strawberries, dry raspberries, and moldy grapes. If I’m a manager at Food Lion, I would think that checking for this type of thing would be important to do on a regular basis. I picked up several containers of raspberries and personally wouldn’t have purchased a single one.
However, that doesn’t mean that everything is bad. The bananas were fresh, with not a single one on the stands having turned brown yet. At 58 cents per pound, I would say that’s a pretty good deal.
The vegetables looked very fresh, and I remember thinking how green all of the leafy lettuce looked. The zucchini and squash was all relatively the same size, with no punctures or bruises. There was also a section specifically for peppers, where I found everything from bell peppers to dried habanero peppers in the produce section.
The cheese at Food Lion looked decent enough, and the same goes for the meat in the deli. When I walked over to the poultry section, I wasn’t as freaked out as I was by the fruit. All of the chicken and beef were normal shades of pink and red, with “ready-to-serve’ options available such as premade, seasoned burgers that were ready to be thrown on the grill. They also offer a homemade section in Food Lion.
I’ve always been under the impression that Food Lion is the cheapest supermarket in the area. After thoroughly reviewing its prices, I’m sticking with that statement. In comparison to Harris Teeter, Food Lion beat out every single item looked at in terms of having a cheaper price. However, I didn’t notice any particularly WOW specials except for “2 for $5” type of deals.
Here are some prices to give you an idea of what you’re looking at:
- Skim milk – $3.69 store brand ($3.59 at Harris Teeter)
- Half-gallon of orange juice – $3.69 for Tropicana, $2.49 for store brand ($3.99 for Tropicana at Harris Teeter)
- A dozen eggs – $1.39 for store brand ($1.59 at Harris Teeter)
- Pound of chicken breast – $1.99
- I was surprised to see the Food Lion brand of chicken was this cheap. However, in a package you end up paying roughly $6.00 or more. In comparison to Nature’s Fresh brand of chicken, you’ll pay $3.99 per pound. It’s safe to say that Food Lion’s chicken is the way to go.
- Apple Jacks – $3.09 vs. $2.39 for store brand equivalent ($3.99 at Harris Teeter)
- Family-sized detergent – $11.69 for Tide, $12.29 for Gain
- Both were on sale for several dollars off, making the Gain total come to $8.99. This is most definitely a steal in comparison to Harris Teeter.
- Shampoo – $3.39 for a bottle of Garnier Fructis ($3.69 at Harris Teeter)
Food Lion does have a MVP card, which will save you even more money if the items that you are searching for are on sale.
Comparison Shopping: 7/10
When it comes to searching for different brands, Food Lion actually delivers pretty well. This is different than their overall selection in terms of quantity. When it comes to variety, Food Lion does a pretty good job.
Looking at several items that are popular to buy, I based my 7/10 rating on this. For starters, I counted six different types of toilet paper, with the most popular like Charmin and Cottonelle on display. They even had types within those brands such as Charmin Ultra Strong and Charmin Ultra Soft. There was everything from 6-count packages to 24-count offerings when it came to toilet paper.
Moving on to dog food, I counted eight different brands. There was variety within those eight brands, but nothing too crazy. If you’re looking for a highly specialized type of dog food, you probably won’t be able to find it at Food Lion. Conversely, I will give Food Lion points for having bird seed next to their dog food. They offered several different brands of bird seed with a label on the aisle, because who doesn’t love to help out the birds when it gets cold during the winter?
There is one aisle dedicated to wine, with white on one half and red one the other. In comparison to other large chains, this doesn’t compare. There were a few expensive wines offered for sale, but I was a lot more impressed with Harris Teeter’s wine selection than at Food Lion.
Looking at the soup aisle, I was impressed. I found eight different brands of soup, and Food Lion even had my favorite brand of Annie’s Organic soup. I haven’t been able to find that specific brand anywhere else aside from Target.
When it comes to organization, Food Lion is easy to navigate and organizes its groceries in a way that makes sense for the most part. On the outskirts of the store are produce, fruit, milk, meat and eggs. The middle of the store has a section for seasonal products and candy with other aisles being grouped together according to products offered.
I gave this category a 8/10 because some of the things didn’t make sense as to why they were placed where they were. For example, I found shoe cleaner plopped directly next to mini donuts. I don’t understand the logic behind that one. There were several different instances similar to that throughout the store. Still, there was a Gluten Free aisle that was labeled. I found this convenient for people who need to know exactly what is gluten free if they are in a hurry.
Here are several items that I chose to see how long it would take to find them in order to get an accurate rating for this category.
- Light bulbs: Right away. The item was labeled on one of the aisles along with the First Aide items.
- Rubbing alcohol and Advil (or equivalent): Extremely easy. Rubbing alcohol was right with all of the other First Aid items, and there were even several different kinds to choose from. The Advil was with all of the other medicines and was organized in alphabetical order, which made it a breeze to find.
- Colored pencils: These were tricky to find. I probably wouldn’t have found these if I hadn’t already been on the First Aid aisle. I found them in a small section next to the greeting cards with no label.
- Mousetraps: The mousetraps were right in front of my face at Food Lion. They were at the beginning of one aisle, along with other home improvement things such as Raid and ant traps. There was a variety of mousetraps to choose from, including traditional traps and sticky pads (vomit).
- Sloppy Joe mix: The Sloppy Joe mix was found easily with the beans and soup starters.
Food Lion loses points when it comes to selection. For as much variety as they have within certain staple items, they don’t offer the same when looking at the entire store as a whole. For starters, they have a very small floral section. Have one too many boyfriends have to apologize to their girlfriend on any given day, and you’re out of bouquets at Food Lion. As previously mentioned, their wine and beer selection wasn’t remarkable either.
It should be noted that Food Lion has an impressive First Aid/Personal Care aisle. I was really overwhelmed with the selection of shampoo offered, including salon-grade brands.
When looking at their on-sale items displayed, I didn’t really understand some of the choices. Every single flavor of Hawaiian Punch to ever be made was advertised on sale, which is essentially sugar in a cup. Do people still drink Hawaiian punch?
I also saw fruit cake for $3.99 advertised on sale, and once again wondered why that was on sale as a display. You couldn’t pay me to eat that stuff.
My favorite clearance item happened to be the popcorn tins with puppies on them for $4.99. This is normally just a holiday thing, but it still made me super excited because it was the first time all season I had seen the popcorn on sale.
Food Lion does well when it comes to impulse items, offering things such as a folding lighter and an entire snack-size section with all of my favorite goodies like flavored sunflower seeds, candy, and more. That would be a dangerous section if I were hungry while checking out. Not going to lie, I looked at the folding lighting and thought, “Hm, this would be great for my hard-to-reach candle wicks.” Marketing props, Food Lion.
Food Lion isn’t very creative when it comes to any off-the-wall items sold. I did find a pummelo in the fruit section, but no jicama was to be spotted. Minus one point.
Walking down the international isle, I found guajillo chile pods and full corn husks so I thought that was pretty interesting as far as creativity goes. I’m not sure what one actually uses an entire corn husk for, but I guess it’s nice to be able to buy them?
I was able to locate Cajun smoked Andouille sausage, but fatback and jaggery were nowhere to be found.
Upon searching for a yahrzeit candle for giggles, I stumbled upon a wax-dripping LED three-pack of candles instead. Props, Food Lion. I also located several toys and games for children at the front, including a My Little Pony set for the win.
Food Lion fails miserably when it comes to extras in the store. At the front, I was only able to find a lottery machine and a Coin Star machine. There is no such thing as a salad bar or any in-store buffets, at least in any Food Lion that I’ve ever been in.
Me at Food Lion searching for lunch:
Everyone at Food Lion seemed to be fairly friendly in my opinion. An employee was walking around asking random people if they were finding everything they were looking for, which is always helpful.
A manager asked me how I was doing, and I’m positive it was because I was carrying around a piece of paper and taking notes while wandering around his store. Still, it’s the thought that counts.
At the registers, I observed the employees checking customers out for several minutes. They didn’t seem to be overly friendly or enthusiastic, but who is at 6 p.m. on a Sunday? However, I will point out that the employee checking me out didn’t bother asking how I was. She just scanned my groceries and told me my total. At Harris Teeter in comparison, employees always seem to try and make conversation while ringing up your groceries.
When it comes down to Food Lion as a supermarket entity, I would assess that it’s a good store to go to if you need a few groceries and know what you’re looking for. Also, probably don’t go here if you’re looking for fresh fruit.
Pressed for time? The Instacart option is nice, but Food Lion lacks when it comes to not having self-checkout options. Nothing is worse than waiting in line behind Grandma Sally and her entirely-too full grocery cart that takes 20 minutes to check out.
You’re not going to find as much of a selection here when it comes to things such as flowers or cards or alcohol, but other sections such as personal care and such deliver.