In a move to expand its retail footprint, Whole Foods Markets Incorporated may soon be upgrading and moving into abandoned Sears store outlets across the country.
The food chain, which was purchased for $13 billion by online commerce giant Amazon two years ago, is increasingly trying to build in places where it does not currently have a presence.
While Whole Foods has nearly five hundred stores in urban and suburban neighborhoods, it is not that well represented in rural America.
But the Sears chain, which at its height owned and operated more than 2,000 stores, has always been a rural America mainstay.
The Whole Foods move makes sense, say analysts, because Sears, which has closed more than 200 of its stores in the last year, has a lot of empty building in parts of the country, notes the publication Bis Now, “where it is the most difficult to find takers for the 100K-plus SF footprints left vacant.
Because Sears purchased KMart in 2004 and more than 300 of those stores have since closed, the Whole Foods Markets strategy would apply to those spaces as well.
A report by the financial analysis website Thinknum suggests that it would not be in Whole Foods’ interest to purchase and rebuild all of the more than 1,200 currently abandoned Sears/Kmart stores.
Instead, it is more likely that Whole Foods will only focus on areas where the average income is at least above $42,000, representing their more typical customer base.
Using those figures, Thinknum estimates that around 600 former Sears and KMart stores, the majority of which are on the East and West coast with a sprinkling in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico, could be renovated and upgraded as Whole Foods properties.
By Garry Boulard
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