These are tough times for the U.S. retail industry, with stores closing at a record pace so far in 2017. It’s no secret why: Amazon is gobbling up more and more sales of clothing, electronics, and other items that once drew shoppers to department stores and malls. The grocery business has been a safe haven in recent years. Only about 1 percent of the roughly $1.5 trillion industry has moved online. That’s made supermarkets an attractive real estate tenant in an era when other shopping has moved from the mall to the living room couch. The reliability of food sales has also drawn more and more stores into the market for prepared food, snacks, and other traditional grocery items as a reliable driver of store traffic. After all, we have to eat and get more garbage bags.
“It’s perceived as relatively impervious to the shift online,” James Cook, director of retail research at JLL, said of the grocery business. “For most of America, food is not purchased online.”