Competition, Profits Pulling Retailers Back to 'Under-Stored' City Neighborhoods

Article excerpt

Bringing viable stores to the inner city not only improves the quality of life for area residents, but also benefits the developers, retailers, and community organizations who develop and operate retail projects, which can produce healthy profits. Local governments also benefit from increased sales taxes.

Most suburban markets are "overstored" and heavy competition cuts already slim profits, so entrepreneurial supermarkets are looking at neighborhoods where competition is virtually nonexistent and most of them, not coincidentally, happen to be in central city locations.

In Washington, D.C., for example, a notoriously underserved market, Safeway's growth has been in the city rather than the suburbs. Its 20 D.C. stores average annual sales of $16.5 million, compared with $14.3 million for all Safeway stores in the region

In 1996, the Urban Land Institute conducted two symposiums - one in New York City and one in Berkeley, California - on "Inner-City Retail Development: Obstacles and Opportunities." The symposiums were cosponsored by The Retail Initiative, Inc. (TRI), a program of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and addressed the possibilities for retail development as one component of inner-city revitalization.

The retail development symposium was in response to the wen known problem that in most inner cities, access to good-quality food and other products is severely limited. …