Rite Aid deal may spell good news for the midstate economy

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Feb 21, 2018 5:32 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

(Harrisburg) -- National grocery operator Albertsons Companies plans to buy Cumberland County-based Rite Aid.

The deal reflects a growing trend. 

Under the proposal, Idaho-based Albertsons, which  operates stores such as Safeway and Acme, says it would continue to operate stand alone Rite Aid stores and rebrand most grocery pharmacies to the Rite Aid name. 

Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation, says he sees the merger as an example of the "Amazon effect."

As more people shop online, he says retailers are searching for new and more convenient ways to deliver products, like groceries and prescription drugs. 

"And so we've seen it in all parts of our economy, and I think as economic developers that does have us a little worried as far as who could potentially be next and what those implications could be," Bowser said. 

Bowser says he will be keeping an eye on how the merger could change store locations and jobs.

He adds Rite Aid is one of the county's largest employers.

"These are mostly family-sustaining jobs, especially at the headquarters level, but then also within the Rite Aid footprint of stores as well," Bowser said.

Rite Aid will maintain corporate offices in East Pennsboro Township.

The company recently sold just under half its stores to rival Walgreens for more than $4 billion, after a plan for a straight buy out fell through. 

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