Report: Online grocery sales could double within four years

Grocery-anchored shopping centers have long been favored by real estate investors. Neighborhood centers without supermarkets average cap rates of around 8%, while ones with a grocery hover near 5%. The lower the cap rate, the more expensive the property, so grocery-anchored centers remain in high demand.

But a new study from Met Life Investment Management called “A New Dawn in Retail” predicts that online food sellers like Instacart, Amazon, and Peapod will cut more significantly into brick-and-mortar sales in the next few years. Now at 2.5% of market share, the e-coms could advance to a position of 7% or more by 2023.

Armed with data that allows them to customize their offerings to specific neighborhoods, grocers are already trimming their inventories and downsizing heir store footprints, the report noted. The average size of a Publix or a Whole Foods is 45,000 sq. ft., close to the minimum size for a grocery categorized as a supermarket. The average size of a Sam’s Club Now, a mobile-first shopping experience, is 32,000 sq. ft.

Met Life allowed that brick-and-mortar supermarkets fulfill a goodly portion of online orders, but expected that to change as high operating costs involved with the system pushes grocery e-coms into cold-storage warehouses.