Will grocery stores become the new mall anchors?
As shopping malls try to figure out how to return to relevance, more big names in grocery are starting to see mall space as a worthwhile investment.
Kroger recently purchased a former Macy’s location in at the Kingsdale Shopping Center in Ohio, according to Business Insider. Whole Foods announced plans to open its Millennial-targeted 365 concept in the College Mall in Bloomington, IN, slated to open some point in 2017. Wegmans announced that it would open a location inside a former J.C. Penney, the chain’s third in-mall location.
Other grocers have made similar moves. In Virginia Beach, VA., a Fresh Market opened in a portion of a space formerly occupied by Sears. (The Sears shrunk into a smaller concept.) And a main line Whole Foods location (not a 365) opened in a former Sears in Clearwater, FL.
City College Professor June Williamson predicted in the Business Insider article that in addition to grocery stores, food preparation facilities and even agricultural operations may appear in mall spaces.
But the world of grocery is changing as quickly as malls. There’s no telling how Amazon’s planned acquisition of Whole Foods or the advent of checkout-free grocery technology as seen in Amazon Go could impact in-mall grocery locations. Improvements in home delivery, auto-replenishment for staples and the like could draw traffic away from grocers, just as they’ve begun to set up shop in malls.
One might also question if grocery trips are conducive with typical mall shopping and if the traffic will spread to other mall tenants. Will shoppers want to walk the mall before or after they shop for groceries?
Malls have been experimenting with other types of non-traditional offerings in hopes of providing a new kind of draw. Earlier this year, The Mall of America announced plans to open in-mall movie theaters serving gourmet food and cocktails. Some malls have even taken to running outdoor events like carnivals and food truck festivals in their parking lots to attempt to draw traffic.
- Grocery stores could save dying suburban shopping malls – Business Insider
- Bloomington ‘Whole Foods 365′ Opening Uncertain – Indiana Public Media
- Are malls better off without department stores? – RetailWire
- This is what Sears stores could look like in the future – Business Insider
- Can parking lots save the mall? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think grocery stores can help revive shopping malls? Will consumers limit their shopping to the grocery stores or will they shop elsewhere in the mall on their trips?