Grocery Stores Move In On Suburban Locations
UNITED STATES – As the buy-side continues its upward momentum of competition, retailers may be exploring a new strategy to cement the success of their chains in the U.S. sector. Grocery retailers may be looking to move further into the suburban landscape, scooping up locations that are being vacated by department chains.
According to Business Insider, department chains that found their ballast in the suburban shopping mall in decades past but are seeing declining foot traffic, are now preparing to close a large amount of their stores. These closures are leaving empty mall spaces in their wake.
"Food retail is one thing helping struggling malls survive," June Williamson, an architecture professor at the City College of New York, and Co-Author of Retrofitting Suburbia.
Williamson also stated that losing an anchor store and its lease payment can make it difficult for a mall’s survival. However, malls are starting to focus on answering consumer needs apart from just clothing. As the consumer shopping experience continues to change, malls could prove a successful financial hub by offering food-related business.
Banners such as Kroger and 365 by Whole Foods have already made their foray into joining the surburban mall lineup. Kroger will reopen a new location in a 45-year-old Macy’s store in Upper Arlington, OH, with the 365 banner opening a mall location in Bloomington, IN.
Wegmans already has two suburban mall locations; one in Pennsylvania, and another in Maryland. The company has slated a third location to open next year in a former J.C. Penney in Natick Mall, MA. Wegmans says it chose the location over others because of the empty department store’s space, parking, and convenient location.
"Because our business model is predicated on high volume, we need a lot of customers to shop in our stores," Wegmans Media Relations Coordinator Valerie Fox said of the decision to move into Natick Mall, according to Business Insider. "While we don't specifically seek out shopping malls, we consider them if they meet the things we're looking for... Natick Mall met all our criteria for a store site."
Shopping malls are generally located in close proximity to housing and public transportation, making for good grocery chain locations without the need to construct an entirely new building from the ground up.
"There are too many malls in the U.S.," Williamson said. "Conventional department stores are under threat, partly from online shopping and people wanting to go to the specialty boutique rather than the Macy's. People still want to go out, and food is a real draw for the social part of consumption. So you may buy your socks online, but you might want to go out with your friends to eat or grocery shop at the mall."
Business Insider noted that hundreds of department store locations are expected to close their doors, including 300 from Sears by the end of the year, and 138 from J.C. Penney.
As some department retail chains continue consolidating, will grocery retail banners take up the charge? AndNowUKnow will report.