Closing Supermarkets Present a Challenge

Earlier this week, we learned that nine Philadelphia-area Superfresh and Pathmark locations will be closing with parent company A&P's recent bankruptcy filing. Included in that list is the Superfresh location at 1851 S. Columbus Blvd., in the Pier 70 Shopping Center. Acme is apparently planning to purchase some Pathmark and Superfresh stores according to Philly Mag, but the Columbus Blvd. store isn't on the list.

Superfresh will be closed down

Another part of the shopping center

Home Depot and Wal-Mart on the other side

The store's closing will open up a huge space in the shopping center that will no be easy to fill. The Home Depot and Wal-Mart on the other side will surely be just fine, but the stores next to the closing supermarket will likely suffer until a new tenant can be found. And what kind of tenant will the company managing this suburban-style shopping center find? Such a large space can only accommodate so many retailers and it seems a supermarket can't make it work here. Fortunately, neighbors have a Shop-Rite and a Target just a few blocks away so at least the Superfresh customers will have other options.

It does, however, lead us to wonder whether increased competition and changing consumer behaviors will lead to additional supermarket closures in the years to come. Remember, it wasn't so long ago that Bottom Dollar shuttered all of its locations, with Aldi only reopening some of them. The 18K sqft former Bottom Dollar on Grays Ferry Avenue is still looking for a new occupant, as is the location at 9th & Girard. Sorry, but it doesn't look like Trader Joe's will be taking over either space (though we'd love to be wrong!).

Former Bottom Dollar on Grays Ferry Avenue

Should we hunker down and prepare ourselves for an extended run of vacancy for these spaces? Or will other retailers step fill the void?

Should we be worried that big-box, non-specialty supermarkets will struggle in Philadelphia? Or are these closures due to poorly run companies, not the market itself?

What would make sense for these former supermarket spaces? Or will demolition ultimately prove to be the best option for some of them?