How Restaurants and Grocers are Blending into New Concepts

By Alan Roth, Managing Director of the eastern U.S. for Regency Centers

If you remain status quo, then you can expect to be left behind — even in the food industry. Across the country, restaurants and grocers are rapidly changing the status quo, and Regency Centers is at the forefront.

Look at grocery, which is arguably the most exciting and dynamic retail category in 2018. Grocery headlines often focus on Amazon and Whole Foods Market, but the category has been evolving quickly for the last several years.

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An Increased Focus on Technology

Grocers are taking steps to reevaluate their future moves, perhaps pulling back on expansions and major acquisitions to instead focus on technological growth.

For example, we’re watching in real time the evolution of “click and collect” vs. online purchasing and delivery. Right now grocers are relying on technology to understand the balance between delivery and curbside collecting. They want to see which service the market truly prefers, and technology is driving that conversation with fulfillment and data analysis.

The Experience of Food & Drink

Throughout the retail world, the hot topic is “experience” or “experiential.” This is also true in the grocery category, and we’re seeing several grocers incorporating a lot more usable and functional cafes. Ten years ago, it would be unfathomable to imagine outdoor seating at a grocery store. Now, it’s almost the norm. Some even serve beer and wine to lure customers in.

In a sense, grocery stores are becoming “grocerants.” There are more prepared foods than you could imagine at Wegmans, and you’re seeing the same thing at Whole Foods Market and others. Wegmans, by way of example, has a great mentality and confidence, blending the lines between grocery and restaurant.

More Options Are Better

This proliferation of choice parallels what we’re seeing in restaurants, too. There has been a major migration into quick-serve restaurant (QSR) concepts across our properties, predominantly driven by the expanding diversity of food offerings.

Regency has been fortunate in aligning with creative, new, best-in-class operators like Cava Mezze Grille, Habit Burger, HoneyGrow and others. QSR is uniquely positioned to maximize square footage and create interesting options for shoppers, solidifying the vibrant synergy for retailers and customers at our properties.