The Case for Supermarkets in Shopping Malls

Bridget Goldschmidt
Managing Editor
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A Loblaws location within a mall in Toronto

In response to reports that such major American grocers as Wegmans Food Markets, Kroger and Whole Foods Market have begun opening locations in shopping malls, as foreign supermarket operators have already done, Paul Milner, marketing director of Displaydata, a U.K. electronic shelf label provider with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, advises other food retailers to take the plunge – although they should be prepared to encounter a few snags along the way.

“While this could overall be a smooth transition into an area that’s already established for retail, it is possible that grocers will experience some challenges,” Milner told Progressive Grocer. “For one, the crowdedness and size of shopping mall parking lots could deter some shoppers from visiting if they would have to carry their groceries a far distance to their cars. This could be elevated by curbside pickup options that are already established by some regional and national grocers. Otherwise, we don’t foresee many unique challenges from the ones faced when moving a grocery store into any other type of formerly occupied building.”

Asked how Americans would respond to grocery stores in an unfamiliar venue, he replied: “With the fast-paced nature of America, shoppers want to be as efficient as possible when running errands. Grocery stores in malls could give Americans the benefit of a one-stop shop for all of their needs — shoppers can get what they want, when they want it, and go home. This transition is another step towards providing shoppers with the advanced and frictionless shopping experience that the American consumer demands. Coupled with increased investment in in-store technology, this new design concept can give grocery stores the opportunity to transform stores into advanced hubs that offer a quick, engaging and easy shopping experience.”

Indeed, he pointed out that such locations could benefit all concerned parties. According to Milner: “Americans will also enjoy seeing these revitalized malls help their communities succeed. By creating these hubs for all kinds of shopping, once declining malls can become destinations for people far and wide to complete all of their shopping at once in a unique space, all while contributing positively to the local economy.”