Over the last few quarters, we’ve been rather vocal here at Tematica about the “transformation” at malls across the U.S. as part of the headwind that many brick & mortar retailers are facing “thanks” to our Connected Society theme. The move by Wegmans is a new one, but it also underscores the types of changes that we’ll be seeing as mall operators, such as Simon Property Group (SPG) reposition their assets from shopping focused to a different kind of destination focus be it dining, entertainment or in this case grocery shopping. That said, we are well aware of efforts by Amazon (AMZN) and Instacart to leverage Connected Society developments to flip the grocery model by bringing them to the shopper. We’ll see how much time the move by Wegmans buys companies like Simon Property Group as they look to fill what is likely to be a growing number of retail stores.
In a first for the 101-year-old grocer, Wegmans said it will open a two-level store, at Natick Mall, Natick, Mass., with direct access to the shopping center. The 134,000-sq.-ft. store will be located in a building that formerly housed one of the mall’s anchors, J.C. Penney. The new Wegmans, scheduled to open in spring 2018, will devote 12,500 sq. ft. on the second floor to two restaurant concepts. The grocer is seeking a complementary tenant for the 45,000-sq.-ft. third floor of the building.