The question marks hanging over attempts by US retailers to run smaller, urban stores successfully have grown after Supervalu Inc decided to shut down an outlet in Chicago.

The retailer, which runs around 4,300 stores across the US, opened a small-format outlet in Chicago last year but, just 12 months on, it will pull up the shutters on the store.

"That's correct, the Urban Fresh store in Chicago will close this month," a Supervalu spokesperson told just-food.

The spokesperson declined to comment on the reasons for the closure and what plans Supervalu has for smaller stores.

Last week, Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert hinted at plans to double the size of its underperforming discount chain Save-a-Lot over the next five years.

Elsewhere last week, Wal-Mart suggested it was looking at downsizing and focusing on developing a smaller "supercenter" format.

However, Wal-Mart's plans for even smaller outlets - as shown by its launch of 15,000 sq. ft. Marketside "test stores" last autumn - remain unclear.

In July, Wal-Mart said it had "no plans" to open more stores despite being "satisfied" with the early performance of the smaller outlets.

UK retail giant Tesco, however, is ploughing ahead with its chain of Fresh & Easy stores on the West Coast.

Earlier this month, the retailer launched its first "brand campaign" with the aim of introducing the retailer on a "much wider scale" to the markets it serves.

In the 26 weeks to 29 August, Fresh & Easy incurred trading losses of GBP85m (US$138.7m) on sales of GBP168m.

Tesco insisted the chain was making "good progress" despite the weak economies in California, Nevada and Arizona.