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Albertsons Waives Restrictions on Closed Supermarkets


Under pressure from Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General, Albertsons Corporation has removed a land use restriction on a closed Bellingham store located in the Birchwood neighborhood. The store was shuttered by Albertsons in 2013 when it moved the business to a nearby Haggen location  Despite subsequent sale of the property, a restriction established in 1982 prevented operation of a grocery business creating a local “food desert”.


An investigation into the situation was conducted by the Office of the Attorney General resulting in the concession by Albertsons to remove the use restriction that would have persisted through 2038.  This action has allowed for a competitor to establish a grocery store in the premises to serve the need of the local community.


In discontinuing the land use restriction, that represented a “dog in the manger” policy, Albertsons will pay the Office of the Attorney General $25,000 to cover costs. Ferguson noted, “Access to fresh groceries is essential for every neighborhood.” He cited residents without transportation and the elderly and disabled in the Birchwood community impacted by the restrictions imposed by Albertsons.  Ferguson has proven to be a strong advocate for the rights of Washington residents noting, “My legal team will continue standup to antitrust violations that create food deserts harming Washington families.”


The Office of the Washington State Attorney General is a party to a lawsuit joined by other state Attorney’s General and the Federal Trade Commission to oppose the proposed merger of Albertsons Corp and the Kroger Company.  Ferguson noted that the divestment proposal advanced by the merging parties “Does not change the fact that Kroger would still enjoy a near-monopoly in many markets in the state.”  He added, “The plan to sell the stores to a company that is primarily a wholesale supplier could set up many of the divested supermarkets to fail, endangering Washington jobs and further diminishing choices for Washington shoppers.”  His concerns are related to the failure of Haggen following divestment of stores in the northwest as required for the merger between Albertsons and Safeway.