They say to never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Well, grocers have found a way to cash in if you do.
There are several “grocerants,” at chain stores and independent locations, that now have full-service restaurants and bars where consumers can taste the products they will be shopping for, or maybe in some cases, a hunger pain from seeing far too many appetizing items.
Though it likely took place well before in downtown locales of major global cities beforehand, a cornerstone of this example is the Mario Batali-nameplate, among other owners, Eataly, which opened in Manhattan in 2010. It has now grown exponentially in a short period of time.
A recent example getting a lot of attention in the Midwest, with its pronounced television advertising, and efforts to attract celebrity chefs is Hy-Vee, which is based in West Des Moines, Iowa, and has nearly 250 stores scattered around neighboring states.
Arguably the most popular grocer around, based on public opinion, is Wegmans Food Markets, which has outlets throughout the Northeast, and several different restaurant concepts available at certain locations.
The monolith of healthy eating, Whole Foods, is not to be left out. Nearly all of its stores have a dine-in option, from Brooklyn, N.Y., to San Francisco. These locations have food items that range from local brewery pub taps, to vegan buffets, to coffee shops, to serve-yourself pizza.
There is a lot of talk about the end of the traditional grocery store, and for good reason. Consumers have several options right now that they never had in the past. It used to be that one would shop at a particular store once a week and get their needed items.
Customers are more discerning nowadays. A shopper will now go to several places to buy products, depending on the item, which could include a dollar or drug store, a high-end grocer, a discount big box and a wholesale club, to pick up groceries on a daily basis.
What should be encouraging for retail real estate owners, which have grocery-anchored shopping centers, is that there are several tenants out there making efforts to drive consumers. With the push by Amazon to become a one-stop shop for everything, experiential retail, which puts people in physical stores, is important.
Though some sectors of retail real estate have fallen behind in their efforts to combat online shopping, grocers likely have an advantage for the experiences they can create.
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