Well, I have been in 7 or 8 Ralphs Stores this week and have noticed the drastic pricing improvements they have made. Far better EDLPs all over the store. The price structure looks more KR-like than before and from that end things look really good.
Aside from that, these stores are in sorry shape. The perimeters are inconsistent between locations and I only saw one store that I thought had a good looking perimeter. Considering 5 of the stores I visited were "Fresh Fares" - that is a real sad statement to make. This chain's execution has gone down so, so far from when they were in Northern California it doesn't even seem to me like the same chain anymore.
Things I saw:
Meat cases, seafood cases, deli cases that were partially covered up with product photos rather than being filled with actual product (saw this in 5 stores, volume issues evidently)
Multiple stores with no product at all in single serve bakery cases around 5:30 PM
One store with no lettuce in its salad bar just after 5:00 PM
I won't even get started on the hot food program... it is generous to call it a program.
Their entire deli program in particular looks terrible. Very high prices, variety is nothing like it used to be, and just not impressive. $6.99 for a deli sandwich? No thanks.
The bakery program is also a mess. They seem to be promoting a lot of cakes, good cakes at that. The stores had huge displays filled with half cakes, cake slices (1.99), 2pk cake slices (3.99). Markdown racks were also filled with these things. A couple stores had no single slices but a bunch of 2pk slices. I asked one of those stores about purchasing a single and was told no, we only have two packs. I asked if they had single in ANY flavor. Nope. None.
Produce areas were similarly inconsistent. Some looked good, some didn't. Pricing on that is very strong. Some just didn't have much product out. Some had stuff under refrigeration that needed to be tossed.
I know they have a QFC person running these stores, but these stores seem nothing like QFC. More like 1990's Smiths on a bad day.
Well, one positive thing is they undercut Albertsons and Vons prices by a wide margin and they are also undercutting Stater on many items.
Too bad Stater runs a cleaner, more professional looking store. Stater keeps its perimeters going full until 9 PM. Stater's employees are friendly. I could go on and on. Stater reminds me more of the old Ralphs I was used to using in NorCal... than these current Ralphs do.