Investments in grocery-anchored shopping centers grew by 5.3% last year compared to 2016, according to a report issued by Chicago-based Jones Lang Lasalle (JLL). The increase makes the grocery-anchored segment one of the few retail sectors to see real growth.

The report also stated that grocery store openings declined by 29% in 2017, with several retailers cutting back on expansion plans and others shutting stores as they attempted to avoid bankruptcy.

“Grocery is considered to have a moat around it to defend against e-commerce, and because of that, these assets are seen by retail property investors as a safe investment,” according to JLL.

A Supermarket News article points out investing in supermarket-anchored centers is not 100% safe, as Amazon and other e-commerce firms make inroads into the market. As a result, many shopping centers run the risk of dying, like their regional mall counterparts anchored by weak department stores.

Tops Friendly Markets (upstate New York) filed for bankruptcy last month, and Southeastern Grocers (Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, Harveys) may file this month. A&P, once a major player in the grocery industry, filed for bankruptcy and liquidated in 2015.

Not surprisingly, shopping centers anchored by strong operators like Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, ShopRite, Wegmans and Publix are among those that have the greatest investment potential.

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