The Shift Away from the Grocery Anchor Staple

Acting as a fly on the wall in Rappaport’s leasing and brokerage meeting recently, a well-known shopping center with an anchor vacancy became the topic of discussion.  Just a few years ago, the obvious target for such a space was a single subclass: grocery.  The meeting revealed a developing industry shift in the approach to leasing anchor spaces.  The hint of adding a supermarket was met with resistance, even a groan or two.  This is not to say supermarket chains are not still leading the pack; more so, this shines a spotlight on the openness to new and unique options for future tenant mixes.  

“We’ve seen anchor spaces repurposed for a variety of uses that wouldn’t have been obvious in the past,” said Rappaport’s Leasing Representative, Michael Leon.  “Fitness, entertainment – grocers are becoming just one option among many.”  Over the past two years alone, Rappaport has assisted multiple retailers with anchor-level footprints expand and thrive in the D.C. market.  Experiential and destination retailers, such as Cinepolis and Planet of Play, are drawing crowds to centers in a similar fashion that a typical grocery anchor would.  Some Rappaport shopping centers are veering this way as well, such as Pointer Ridge Plaza in Bowie, Maryland, with Sky Zone Trampoline Park occupying 25,000 square feet of space along Route 301. 

An anchor’s value is clear: shoppers typically come for the anchor and stay for the other service and dining options once there.  If an area is saturated with supermarkets, though, this shift toward other anchor uses offers a new path for the leasing agents and brings variety to the community’s shopping experience. 

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