SAN BERNARDINO ( — Discount grocer Aldi plans to open its first stores in Southern California in March 2016, joining an already highly competitive supermarket arena.

The Chicago-based company said it is still reviewing location options. But the San Bernardino Sun reports San Bernardino will be among the first cities to see the new stores.

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The news is welcomed by some San Bernardino residents who say their supermarket options are slim. “We have to go to other cities like Colton, Redlands,” said Yvonne Navarro, who works in San Bernardino.

Allison Abelian also lives in San Bernardino. She said: “I just moved here from Northern California. It’s a lot more slim than I was expecting.”

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Phil Lempert is an expert in consumer behavior and marketing trends. He said Aldi’s format of smaller stores, single-brand products and lower prices will make it a force to be reckoned with. “What it means for us, as consumers, is very high quality products and very cheap prices,” he said.

Aldi already has 1,300 stores in the U.S., but none yet in California. “They know the US market, they’re not strapped for cash,” Lempert said. “This is a German chain, which also happens to be the sister chain for Trader Joe’s that which Californians live and breathe by.”

He said Aldi will not become another disaster like Haggen, which bought up dozens of stores in Southern California only to close them because of slowing business.

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