Grocery retailers are opening new stores in cities that aren’t only designed as places for consumers to pick up their weekly groceries: They’re turning them into culinary destinations with eateries as well as features designed for city living. Wegmans, for instance, is opening a store at Brooklyn’s Navy Yard that is replete with dining experiences.
The 74,000 square-foot space, which is scheduled to open in the fall, will feature a second-floor mezzanine complete with almost 100 seats for a market café. At the same time, the store will have a bar that offers food, beer, wine and spirits. The store will also have a novel design: The retailer will put into place low-iron glass instead of tinted glass that many supermarkets use to cut back on energy expenses. Luxury retailers usually have that type of glass installed, and it’s easier to see inside. The store will also have spaces set aside for Uber pickups, which Bloomberg calls “a New York necessity.”
Wegmans, which has just under 100 stores in six states, has designed stores around other environments. In Natick, Mass., for instance, the company opened its first store that was at a mall in 2018. That two-story location features a shopping escalator cart as well as a skywalk linked to a parking garage. And the location, Bloomberg says, presents “a huge opportunity” for the company. Just under 3 million people reside within a five-mile range of the Navy Yard. The average household income, the news outlet reports, is “well above $100,000.” Even so, Wegmans enters a highly competitive field in New York with local chains such as D’Agostino and Fairway along with produce stands and other players.
The retailer, however, has been ranked as the top grocery store in the U.S. per one survey. Even so, the report notes, “The move will be a big test of whether Wegmans can duplicate the phenomenal success it’s had in smaller locales in the crowded New York market.” That’s not to mention the chain’s loyal fans — including a sports superstar upstate: Richie Incognito, Buffalo Bills’ offensive lineman said in a 2016 tweet that the chain “was a big part of me resigning in Buffalo.”
Wegmans is not the only supermarket retailer opening up city stores with dining components: Whole Foods Market’s 70,000-square-foot store in Atlanta, for instance, showcases four eateries — including a rooftop experience. Whole Foods Market South Region President Bobby Turner said, according to reports, “We worked hard to create a place that offers our neighbors a destination to get together, enjoy great food and connect with members of the local community through a variety of culinary, wellness and cultural events.”
From Whole Foods Market to Wegmans, grocers are opening stores that aren’t just places to shop, but destinations for dining in their own right.
In Other Brick-and-Mortar Retail News
Walmart plans to revamp 500 of its U.S. store locations in an effort to keep its physical retail presence relevant in the eCommerce age. The improvements reportedly include wider aisles and brighter lighting as well as self-checkouts. Individual plans encompass a $265 million investment for Texas, a $173 million investment for Florida, and a $145 million investment for California. The retailer spent approximately $2.2 billion in 2018 on 500 remodels, according to reports.
GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said, according to reports, “All retailers are under pressure to do it, although whether and how much they’re doing it is very variable. Walmart is not doing massive refurbishments with major changes. It really is a refresh, to make the store experience a lot more pleasant.”
In other news, VillageMD and Walgreens have teamed up to provide adult patients with primary healthcare services in the Houston, Texas area. The “Village Medical at Walgreens” clinics will offer comprehensive primary care services that are integrated with nurses, social workers and pharmacists to meet the needs of patients. The clinic patients will also tap into the patent-pending docOS system of VillageMD.
Pat Carroll, M.D., Walgreens chief medical officer and group vice president, healthcare services and clinical programs, said in an announcement, “This collaboration with VillageMD demonstrates our ongoing commitment to create neighborhood health destinations that bring affordable health care services to customers and provide a differentiated patient experience to the communities we serve.”
On another note, UBS says merchants will have the need to close stores as eCommerce sales proliferate in the U.S. The firm contends that merchants in the clothing, home furnishing and consumer electronics spaces will have to close more stores. “Store rationalization needs to accelerate meaningfully as online penetration continues to rise,” the investment firm said in a note to clients. Roughly 75,000 more retail stores with the exception of restaurants will need to close, according to analysts, with the assumption that online shopping’s share of retail sales in the U.S. arrives at 25 percent by 2026.
Within the 75,000 figure, it was estimated that 21,000 clothing locations, 8,000 home furnishing locations and 1,000 home improvement locations should close. The investment firm also examined the productivity of retail locations across the country and noted that it accelerated through last year. “We believe this pace of store productivity improvement is unlikely to be sustained in 2019 as the boost from fiscal stimulus fades,” the firm noted.
To keep tabs on the latest retail trends, check next week’s Retail Pulse.