Could Supermarkets Be Key to Boosting Malls?

Carrefour Express airport grocery store

Today malls, tomorrow … airports?

As the traditional shopping center concept continues to fade, anchor department stores close and mall traffic drops, could grocery stores be the ingredient for a new recipe for retail success?

According to the May 2018 Retail Investor Sentiment Report from Real Capital Markets, real estate investors prefer anchored shopping centers, especially those anchored by supermarkets. In fact, nearly half of survey respondents said anchored centers are currently the most attractive retail investment today, while fewer than half felt the same about strip centers, RE Journals reported.

Additionally, investors responding to the survey said retailers need to create experiences for consumers that can’t be realized by shopping online.

“No one can buy an ice cream cone, get their laundry, put gas in their car or check out a liquor store on Amazon,” Joe Cosenza, vice chairman with Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland Real Estate, told RE Journals. “These are the kinds of tenants that tag along with all good grocery stores.”

So, what other venues might be ripe for entry by supermarkets?

French grocer Carrefour may have the answer: airports.


Carrefour Express local products

I recently traveled to Italy for the CIBUS International Food Exhibition. En route to the show in Parma, I landed at Marconi Airport in Bologna and walked into the arrival hall to be greeted by a Carrefour Express grocery store.

The first travel-tailored market for Carrefour, which operates more than 12,000 stores in 30 countries, this compact 800-square-foot store offers an abundant selection of products for its size, across all categories, representing a region of northern Italy distinguished by unique culinary offerings. Additionally, the store offers services typical of a neighborhood supermarket, including grocery delivery and laundry service. Carrefour also operates a similar store at the Milan airport about two hours north of Bologna.

With destinations in neighboring countries like France and Germany within an hour’s flight by regional air carriers, these Carrefour Express locations are likely a welcome sight by folks returning from day or overnight trips, who, realizing they left behind a bare cupboard at home, can pick up staples for the week ahead or that evening’s meal.

Why couldn’t this work in the States? As traditional grocers look for new and better ways to deliver a seamless shopping experience, airports could be the next big thing.

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