Supermarkets Replace Malls As Community Hubs
The supermarket has a new purpose these days that goes well beyond providing people with food.
Grocery stores have become a place for social interaction, taking over for shopping malls and social clubs to allow people to meet and find community, friendship and even romance in the aisles, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The trend has been fueled in part by online shopping and the rise of meal kit programs, both of which have forced grocery stores to reinvent themselves as more of a destination spot in order to hold on to consumers.
Take Whole Foods, for example. The grocer has made social space a priority when designing floor plans by creating interaction spots near the aisles. The North Carolina-based Lowes Foods chain included a village concept in its stores and now has a large communal table at the center of stores that can seat up to 15 people. The table has since become home to bingo games and arts and craft projects. Other stores host local musicians, community groups or tasting sessions, the WSJ reports.
While there has been some skepticism about the profitability of such social spaces, the strategy does lend to fostering positive brand recognition, which in turn drives traffic.