As the food retail industry waits to see what tech giant Amazon has in mind for an expected rollout of a new physical grocery format, a retail real estate tracking service has seen a concurrent uptick in proposed supermarket retail sites with unidentified tenants.
Planned Grocery, a service of Columbia, S.C.-based Beitz and Daigh Geographics that tracks developing grocery stores through local press reports, is tracking 77 proposed grocery store sites across the U.S. that do not have an identified tenant.
“I feel like at least some of those 77 will turn into Amazon stores,” David Beitz, president of Beitz and Daigh, told WGB this week.
Seattle-based Amazon, which also owns Whole Foods Markets and has a growing collection of Amazon Go convenience stores, has kept a tight lid on its plans to explore a new grocery format.
Beitz confessed the tool has not been tracking what it calls “unknown grocery stores” long enough to know for certain whether the spate of unidentified sites is especially unusual, but he noted that one of those “unknown” sites—in Woodland Hills, Calif., has since been identified in a Wall Street Journal article about Amazon’s forthcoming chain. That article indicated Amazon was eyeing spaces around Los Angeles, Chicago and the East Coast for the as-yet-unnamed grocery chain, which some are referring to as Prime Grocery.
The volume of proposed sites overall as tracked by Planned Grocery has also seen steady increases this year, Beitz noted, with 401 such sites in its database as of Sept. 15, up from 294 on the same date in 2018. (It is worth noting this is a fluid measure: Proposed sites are reclassified as “planned” sites as leases are signed and again as “under construction” as that info becomes available).
The Woodland Hills site, now listed as “under construction” by Planned Grocery, will reportedly be a 35,000-square-foot store at the site of a former Toys R Us. Sources anticipate Amazon is likely to incorporate a means of efficient fulfillment as part of the store, serving an ambition to efficiently tackle local delivery. The vast majority of U.S. food at home sales still take place in local stores.