retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about something that we've reported on here on MNB - that "malls are again courting supermarkets to fill department store vacancies and appeal to a selective food customer."

Examples cited in the story: "A Whole Foods market will open later this year at Exton Square Mall, following another at Plymouth Meeting Mall and a Wegmans at Montgomery Mall. Other chains, such as ShopRite, are scoping out mall spaces long occupied by Macy's, Sears, and J.C. Penney. Nationally, grocery stores are reentering spaces long reserved for fashion retailers: Jimbo’s, a specialty food chain much like Whole Foods, opened at Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego; Wegmans is replacing a Penneys near Boston; and College Mall in Bloomington, Ind., will welcome 365 by Whole Foods Market this fall."

The rationale, the story says, is that "malls need replacements for darkening anchor stores as e-commerce, especially, snaps up big chunks of traffic and sales. Mall restaurants have been steadily improving, making high-end grocers a logical next step.

"For their part, grocery stores represent one of the more internet-proof sectors in retail. Online U.S. grocery sales for 2016 accounted for less than 1 percent of the $1 trillion U.S. grocery retail market, according to a recent Moody's report."

I was with them right up until that "grocery stores are one of the more internet-proof sectors in retail" comment. Relative to books and clothing, maybe, but I think it is a mistake to underestimate the impact that e-grocery will have on traditional supermarkets.

• The Chicago Tribune reports that "Starbucks debuted its new Mercato lunch menu in 100 Chicago stores Tuesday, a line aimed at customers who increasingly demand vegetarian-friendly and protein-filled options for a midday meal. If the line is successful, it will be expanded nationwide. The menu consists of salads, in full or half sizes, sandwiches and also some options that Starbucks customers will already recognize, like Bistro Boxes and fresh yogurt and fruit options."
KC's View: