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The Chicago Tribune reports on what it says is a “nascent” trend: “Food stores from upscale Whole Foods to discounter Aldi are starting to appear at regional shopping malls ... Experts disagree on whether it will become commonplace, but the grocery stores' arrival punctuates what many mall operators have known for years: The temple of American shopping needs a 21st-century makeover.”

According to the story, the trend reflects a desire on the part of supermarkets to expand into new locations and gain access to different customers at a different point in the shopping experience; it also reflects the fact that malls are morphing into a new animal - “a place of commerce and convenience centered around community ... Mall operators are filling spaces left behind by vacant department stores with post offices, public libraries, vocational schools, drugstores and day care centers.”

Grocery stores also bring something else to the mall: the potential of shoppers who might visit once a week rather than an average of once a month.
KC's View:
What could be interesting about this model is if some food retailers making the move into mall spaces decide to create a different sort of model, perhaps going heavy into foodservice or fresh products, or emphasizing certain services to a greater extent because they make more sense in that context.

That won’t happen with Aldi, which really only has one format. But man, it’d be interesting to see what Whole Foods comes up with. it doesn’t necessarily have to be a whole store.