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Food trucks are bringing customers back to retail

8/12/2016 | Real Estate Blog

Commercial real estate investors in Pennsylvania have probably heard about the suffering retail sector. With the popularity of e-commerce, consumers are buying their clothing and electronics online rather than in department stores and malls. While e-commerce is taking customers away from most brick-and-mortar retail, the restaurant sector has been growing, and landlords are now using food to lure shoppers back to retail spaces.

In 2015, restaurants earned more money than supermarkets for the first time in nearly 20 years. Consumers have become increasingly interested in food trucks, food halls, celebrity chef restaurants and grocery stores, such as Whole Foods, where customers can enjoy an ample selection of prepared foods in a dining space. Some of the celebrity chef restaurants that have opened in recent years include Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Las Vegas and Bryan Voltaggio’s East Coast restaurants.

The mobile fast-food restaurants known as food trucks are now being used to help drive foot traffic to retail stores. Mall owners are now making deals with food truck owners by paying them to park near their stores. The food truck sector now generates $2.7 billion per year, and groups of food trucks are replacing the traditional indoor food courts of the past.

A commercial real estate investor that wants to invest in the restaurant sector may want to talk to an attorney about how restaurants differ from other kinds of retail. An attorney may also be able to advise a commercial real estate owner about how to negotiate a contract with food truck owners.