Grocers Compete for Growth in Florida Retail Market

by Nate Hunter

Existing grocery chains like Publix, along with new-to-market retailers such as Trader Joe’s, are competing to capitalize on Florida’s favorable retail environment.


Daily need retail is a segment of the market in Florida seeing steady growth as existing grocery chains and new-to-market brands compete for prime anchor locations throughout Florida’s major markets.

A game changer for the Florida retail market is the entrance of exciting national brands like specialty grocer Trader Joe’s, which opened its first stores on the West Coast of the state in Naples and Sarasota. The retailer is now expanding into other locations in Florida. The California-based chain, which has locations in nine states, recently announced its first location in Pinecrest, which was received with strong community support.

Grocers catering to more health-conscious consumers, such as Whole Foods Market and The Fresh Market, are also growing their presence in the Sunshine State at an aggressive pace. For example, Miami’s urban core will have its first natural foods supermarket when Whole Foods opens its doors in 2014.

A rebounding regional economy, coupled with rising consumer confidence, is music to the ears of grocers, allowing existing grocery chains to resume planned expansions and new-to-market brands to eye future growth in Florida.

Florida-based supermarket chain Publix continues to have a dominating presence as an anchor tenant at open-air shopping centers statewide. Then, there is Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, pursuing a strategic expansion with its big-box stores and smaller prototype neighborhood markets — rapidly establishing a stronger brand presence across South and Central Florida.

Not only are national grocers in search of locations in major markets like Miami, Broward, Orlando and Tampa, they are also competing for anchor locations with international players, such as German supermarket chain Aldi and Russian-backed Okey Dokey, that have entered the market in recent years.

Additionally, strong locally owned supermarket chains like Sedano’s and Presidente are expanding their footprint in South Florida. With increased competition, retail space rents in markets like Miami have surged recently, posting a 10.8 percent gain, year over year, according to JLL’s Florida retail outlook report.

Retailers surrounding the new supermarket anchor tenants are also benefiting from the increased shopper traffic.

With food playing a protagonist role in the consumer market, supermarkets are designing their floor plans and remodeling existing stores to add space for prepared foods, organic food options and local products. More traditional stores in the market, such as drug stores, dollar stores and discounters, are also adding a food component that allows them to compete for this market share.

The recent announcement of grocery giant Bi-Lo’s acquisition of Sweetbay is also going to create new dynamics in the grocer business statewide.

But for now, expect competition to remain stiff in the next 12 to 18 months as supermarket chains like Publix, Walmart and Trader Joe’s announce the opening of more new stores.

With the economy continuing to recover and grocers, from national chains to new-to-market brands, entering and growing in the Florida market, the forecast is bright and ultimately the consumer is bound to benefit most.

John Lambert is senior vice president and retail market lead for Jones Lang LaSalle based in Orlando.


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