The store was Wegmans first store to open in a traditional shopping mall, replacing a JCPenney store that closed in 2015. At 134,000 square feet, the Natick Mall store is one of the largest stores in the grocer’s fleet, according to Wegmans. In total, Wegmans has five other locations in the greater Boston area, the release said. Wegmans says it has no plans to close other stores.
The closure comes as the grocer, based in Rochester, New York, continues to expand its presence. It will open its first Manhattan store later this year, taking over a former Kmart store. Its first New York City store opened in Brooklyn in 2019. In January, Wegmans opened its 15th store in Virginia: an 85,000-square-foot store in Reston. Last fall, it opened its first location in Delaware, and other recently opened stores include stores in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria, Virginia. The grocer is also planning to open its first stores in Long Island, New York, and Connecticut.
According to Dunhumby’s most recent annual Retailer Preference Index, Wegmans ranked fourth as consumers’ favorite grocer in the U.S. behind H-EB, Costco and Amazon. It was the third year in a row that Wegmans came in fourth place. Wegmans operates more than 110 stores across the East Coast, including in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
Shifting population patterns and consumers’ flexible work schedules, in larger part driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, have provided opportunities for suburban grocery-anchored centers to draw traffic.
“As retailers try and perfect their approaches to unified retail, or the seamless integration of physical and digital assets, using suburban markets as testing locations could provide key insights into how and when consumers want to shop with retailers by channels,” said Elizabeth Lafontaine, Retail Leader Pro’s chief retail analyst.