Grocery stores, curbside pickup boost neighborhood shopping

By Kate King. The following article was published Dec. 14, 2021 in The Wall Street Journal.

Shopping centers are having a moment, propelled by increased foot traffic to grocery stores, curbside pickup and population shifts that favor suburban shopping.

Landlords filled 17 million square feet of additional real-estate space in open-air shopping centers last quarter, a 49% increase from 2019, according to commercial real-estate services firm CBRE Group Inc. That marks a 10-year high for net absorption, or the total space occupied minus what has been vacated.

These shopping destinations include larger, open-air shopping complexes as well as strip malls, which typically feature an anchor store and several smaller stores or services like pharmacies and fitness studios. Grocery stores are often the anchor and help drive their success, said Brandon Isner, head of Americas retail research at CBRE.

“It’s almost an automatic flow of foot traffic, because grocery is the greatest retail need,” he said.

Grocery stores never closed during the pandemic. They are still benefiting from a shift to at-home cooking that started early on in the pandemic, when indoor dining was closed, said Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing for data analytics firm


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