In the past, a typical grocery-shopping experience was boring, even dreadful and something to avoid or rush through, observed Deborah L. English, IIDA, CCID, founder and president, DL English Design, Pasadena, CA. Today one may find a pop-up restaurant by your favorite local chef, a 250-seat full-service bar, a live band or DJ during Sunday brunch, wine tastings or coffee baristas serving up nitro cold brew.

Consumer shopping preferences have experience a major generational and cultural shift, English continued. “We are undergoing the socialization of just about everything, including the once-mundane trip to the supermarket. In consumer food environments, we see a shift in preference for grocery store experiences toward hybrid spaces that blend the lines of retail, food service, restaurants, and entertainment,” she said. Many brick-and-mortar retailers face significant competitive challenges from online players, and retailers and architects are responding by creating enticing spaces that elevate the retail experience and invite shoppers to spend more time in the store, English added.

In addition, food selection offered by retailers have expanded greatly in the past two decades, according to Tom Henken, vice president, director of design, api(+), Tampa, FL. “There is now a much wider selection of prepared, specialty and international foods. In addition, the market is divided by large, low-price stores like Costco at one end of the spectrum and small, specialty stores like Trader Joe’s at the other end. These changes have forced traditional grocers to lower prices and increase product variety and quality to compete,” he said. “Meal kid, restaurant, and grocery delivery are inspiring traditional brick-and-mortar stores to offer similar conveniences. This trend will continue to grow as the consumer adopts a hybrid method of food shopping both online and in-store, based on changing lifestyles and options,” Henken continued.

Fresh, natural, and organic are the preferences for many shoppers, especially Millenials, commented Joe Keene, vice president, mechanical engineering, Cuhaci & Peterson Architects Engineers Planners, Orlando, FL.